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Israel Licks Wounds As Iran Sanctions End, Looks To Future U.S. Aid

Reuters Top News World

Israel Licks Wounds As Iran Sanctions End, Looks To Future U.S. Aid

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By Dan Williams

JERUSALEM (Reuters) — Israel bristled on Sunday at the lifting of international sanctions on Iran and vowed to flag up any violations of its arch-foe’s nuclear restrictions while drawing on U.S. defense aid to prepare for a possible military face-off in the future.

The International Atomic Energy Agency on Saturday ruled Iran had abided by last July’s deal with world powers curbing its nuclear program, spelling a windfall in sanctions relief. A parallel Iranian-U.S. prisoner exchange, devised in secrecy, drove home the adversaries’ desire to reengage diplomatically.

The developments put paid to years of intensive Israeli lobbying for more comprehensive curbs on Tehran – a campaign that strained relations between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Barack Obama.

Netanyahu sounded unrepentant on Sunday – even as one Israeli official grudgingly commended the Iranian statecraft and a former senior adviser to the prime minister accused him of having pursued a dangerously failed strategy.

“Were it not for our efforts to spearhead the sanctions and foil Iran’s nuclear program, Iran would have already had nuclear weapons long ago,” Netanyahu told his cabinet.

He called on world powers to impose “harsh, aggressive sanctions” for any nuclear violations by Iran – actions which, his office said in an earlier statement, Israel would “continue monitoring and flagging up”.

Ram Ben-Barak, director-general of Israel’s Intelligence Ministry, predicted Iran would invest in economic recovery in the coming years while remaining able to restart its nuclear drive “overnight”.

“The Iranians are celebrating, and rightly so. They managed to spin everyone around their little finger,” Ben-Barak told Israel’s Army Radio.

“VERY WORRIED”

“The Americans are satisfied because, in their thinking, diplomacy succeeded. But we are very, very worried and the Gulf countries are very, very worried and it is absolutely clear to everyone that this hiatus is utterly temporary,” Ben-Barak said.

Israel argues that the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran has been eclipsed, for the time being, by the threat of conflict with Lebanon’s Hezbollah and other guerrillas who now stand to get increased funding from Tehran.

That, along with the sectarian strife rippling through the region, has prompted Israel to request a boost in U.S. defense aid to as much as $5 billion annually when the current package worth an average of $3 billion expires next year.

Netanyahu said those negotiations were in the final stages.

“This is important as part of the fixed policy between us and the United States, our ally, and also important in order to fend off the regional threats, chief of which is the Iranian threat, of course,” he said.

U.S. officials have said the Obama administration was unlikely to fully meet the Netanyahu government’s request for increased aid, though they affirmed Washington’s commitment to Israel’s security.

Uzi Arad, a former Netanyahu national security adviser, said Israel’s naysaying on the Iran deal had eroded its leverage – especially with Obama, an outgoing Democratic president who saw the rightist premier as siding with his Republican rivals.

“The question is, do we today have an understanding with the Americans as to what should be done if there is this-or-that (nuclear) violation? I’m not so sure,” Arad told Israel Radio.

“To judge by the outcome, we lost. In any event, their (Iranian) diplomacy won, and that’s a pity.”

Udi Segal, diplomatic affairs correspondent for Israel’s top-rated television station Channel 2, said in a commentary that Israel “has no set strategy for the day after the (nuclear) deal” and was biding its time until Obama steps down next year.

“Netanyahu is convinced that this is an historic mistake, but that it will become clear only after Obama is far from the center of influence and the White House,” Segal said.

(Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Stephen Powell)

Photo: Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu participates in a forum hosted by the Center for American Progress in Washington November 10, 2015. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

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9 Comments

  1. @HawaiianTater January 17, 2016

    Poor Bibi didn’t get his war. Boo-hoo.

    Reply
  2. FireBaron January 18, 2016

    Ah, the plight of Bebe. After having a US President he could talk into just about anything, he now has a US President that does not put up with his crap. Frankly, as Israel is an arms exporter, why in Hell are we giving them any assistance money.

    Reply
    1. anothertoothpick January 18, 2016

      And what country do we give $4 billion taxpayers money every year, Israel.

      And what country has the most liberal abortion laws in the world, Israel.

      And what country has “health basket” Obamacare type health insurance with 100% paid for abortion on demand…..Israel.

    2. MVH1 January 18, 2016

      And a very wealthy country to boot.

  3. docb January 18, 2016

    No more US Aid for the zionists ..Starve them out… bibi is a scourge on the Israeli people and the World!

    Reply
  4. I of John January 18, 2016

    cut em off already.

    Reply
  5. MVH1 January 18, 2016

    Netanyahu is at best a creep. He insults our president as publicly and loudly and rudely as he possibly can and then demands another $2 billion. I wish we’d kick Israel to the curb. There is just no telling how much the U.S. has suffered and how many of its citizens have been killed over our ridiculous support for Israel.

    Reply
  6. James Beekman January 18, 2016

    I would not be disappointed to start seriously weaning Israel off the teat of the American taxpayer. Cut Saudi Arabia out altogether. The only issue would be is the political instability that would result. Support Israel (if they ask nicely) with our military. But not with shiploads of US taxpayer cash. We have our own problems.

    Reply
  7. Eleanore Whitaker January 19, 2016

    Nethanyahu is surprisingly politically naive when it comes to Republicans. He thought all of their swaggering, bragging and blowhard posturing meant they were the US government. He found out too late he was wrong. Being a militant bully, Netanyahu hates being wrong. No different than right wingers and the Republicans who never admit to being wrong even when they are judged by a jury of their peers. They will only lap up credit…as miniscule as it is these days, never blame for anything they do.

    Reply

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