Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) on Monday and said it was time for the US and Israel to become more closely aligned on Iran.
“It’s time to close ranks between Israel and the United States – and others. And I look forward to discussing this issue with President Biden and his team. I think there is more of a meeting of the minds today than there has ever been,” Netanyahu said in a video address to AIPAC members in Washington.
Netanyahu is a staunch opponent of the 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal, known as the JCPOA, and played a major role in convincing the Trump administration to pull out of the agreement in 2018 and reimpose sanctions on Iran. Now that he’s presiding over a new Israeli government, Netanyahu is set to continue Israel’s hawkish approach toward Tehran.
The Biden administration does appear to be aligned with Netanyahu as President Biden recently said the JCPOA was “dead” and has ramped up sanctions on Tehran. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan made clear on Monday that the administration had no intention of engaging Iran to revive the JCPOA.
“We’ve made clear that our priority right now is not the JCPOA, that this is not the moment or the context to place priority on that,” Sullivan told reporters. He also pointed out that none of Netanyahu’s predecessors favored the JCPOA either.
“We had Prime Minister Netanyahu for the early months, then we had Prime Minister Bennett, and then we had Prime Minister Lapid. One thing all three of those men had in common: None of them liked the JCPOA,” Sullivan said.
US and Israeli officials are expected to discuss Iran in upcoming meetings. Sullivan is expected to travel to Israel next week to meet with officials in the new government. Ron Dermer, Israel’s new intelligence minister, arrived in Washington on Monday for talks with officials in the White House and State Department.
In recent months, the US and Israel have agreed to step up military cooperation and held drills simulating attacks on Iran. Even though the Pentagon acknowledged in its recently issued Nuclear Posture Review that Iran is not building a nuclear weapon, US officials have threatened military action as a “last resort” to prevent Iran from acquiring a bomb.
Tzachi Hangebi, the new head of Israel’s National Security Council, warned before the new government was formed that Netanyahu might order an attack on Iran if the US doesn’t reach a stricter nuclear deal with Tehran or take military action itself. He said in such a scenario, Netanyahu “will act, in my assessment, to destroy the nuclear facilities in Iran.”