In his latest veiled threat aimed at Iran, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would risk “friction” with the US to take action against Tehran’s nuclear program.
“If we have to choose, I hope it doesn’t happen, between friction with our great friend the United States and eliminating the existential threat — eliminating the existential threat,” Netanyahu said Tuesday at a ceremony for David Barnea, the new chief of Israel’s Mossad spy agency, who also threatened to attack Iran.
The “existential threat” Netanyahu refers to is a nuclear-armed Iran, which he claims is an inevitability if the US returns to the Iran nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA. This ignores the fact that the JCPOA places strict limits on Iran’s civilian nuclear program and makes it subject to the most stringent nuclear inspection regime in the world.
Even after the JCPOA, Iran would still be bound by the Non-Proliferation Treaty, an agreement Israel refuses to sign due to its secret nuclear weapons arsenal.
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz pushed back against Netanyahu and said disagreements over Iran should be discussed privately. “The Biden administration is a true friend, and Israel has and will have no better partner than the US. Even if there are disagreements, they must be solved behind closed doors and not with defiant rhetoric that could harm Israel’s security,” Gantz said.
Gantz is traveling to Washington this week, where he is expected to ask the Pentagon for $1 billion in “emergency” military funding, on top of the $3.8 billion the US gives Israel annually. The request comes after Israel’s 11-day bombing campaign in Gaza that killed at least 256 Palestinians, including 67 children.