Blinken Asks Israel PM for Alternative to Iran Nuclear Deal

Bennett critical of nuclear deal, calls for sanctions threats

Always a factor in the US policy toward Iran is what Israel thinks. This may be difficult to understand, because in the context of Iran and diplomacy, Israel is uniformly and consistently against it. Despite President Biden suggesting a nuclear deal was going to happen irrespective of Israel’s stance, it’s clear they still loom very large.

Faced with outspoken Israeli opposition, Secretary of State Tony Blinken met with Israeli Premier Naftali Bennett, and asked him what his “alternative” to the deal was, as far as keeping Iran from nuclear weapons capacity.

Asking Israel what their plan for Iran is seems foolhardy, since the full range of Israeli policy toward Iran is threats of war. Challenging Israel for a plan certainly is going to get an answer that’s not diplomacy.

The consideration of why this might be important has to center on the influence of the Israel Lobby, and its importance to all but one Republican Senator opposing the deal before it was even finalized.

It’s not clear if Israel is being asked to submit a full proposal for a US policy. Getting something like that allows Biden to defend promises to get “input” from allies, but risks skewing administration positions toward what Israel wants, and polluting the negotiating environment by giving the impression that this is the new US stance.

The early response at the meeting was predictable for Israel’s stance on diplomacy, as Bennett said Iran could be deterred if the US and Europe threatened to ramp up sanctions to the level placed on Russia. He also mocked the deal as a “Band-Aid” that would just give Iran billions of dollars.

Threatening more sanctions is hardly a plan, at least not a new one. With Israel’s prompting, threatening sanctions on Iran is most of what the US does in general, and suggesting that the right level of sanctions would work ignores just how many sanctions are already in place, and how the US sees sanctions as an opportunity for more sanctions.

With a real diplomatic deal to be had, approaching Israel is the last way for the US to show it is part of the diplomatic process. Instead, it sets up serious problems down the road.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.