Israel cracks down on dissent in its ranks over possible Iran nuclear deal

JERUSALEM, June 26 (Reuters) – Israel’s defense minister said on Sunday that policy regarding Iran’s nuclear talks was set by the government, not the security forces, after a newspaper reported that Israel’s top generals favored a deal between Tehran and the world powers.

Military intelligence and strategic planning chiefs believe a relaunch of a 2015 deal that curtailed Iran’s nuclear program would give Israel time to prepare an attack aimed at depriving its nemesis of the means to build a nuclear weapon, according to the top-selling daily Yedioth Ahronoth. said Friday.

While the Israeli security forces have a say in Iranian policy, “it’s the government level that makes the decisions,” Defense Minister Benny Gantz tweeted.

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“We will continue to hold the open and in-depth dialogue behind closed doors only. Anything else harms the security of the State of Israel.”

An Israeli military spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Yedioth’s unsourced report.

Gantz’s rebuke apparently also targeted the Mossad spy service, which Yedioth said opposed any new Iranian nuclear deal.

The European Union and Iran agreed on Saturday that nuclear talks, bogged down for weeks, would resume soon. Read more The development comes amid political instability in Israel, after Prime Minister Naftali Bennett called for a snap election.

Israel is not a party to the negotiations. But his worries about the outcome – and his longstanding threats to take unilateral military action against Iran – carry weight in Western capitals.

Gantz did not comment on the EU-Iran announcement. Neither did Bennett, although he had television cameras on hand for what was likely his last cabinet meeting on Sunday. He is due to step down this week, with Foreign Secretary Yair Lapid assuming his duties.

Israel hailed then-US President Donald Trump’s decision to back out of the 2015 deal, saying it was insufficient. After Trump was replaced by Joe Biden, Israeli leaders said they would not be bound by any new deal Washington might reach with Tehran.

Iran, which denies wanting to acquire nuclear weapons, has since the American walkout intensified projects likely to manufacture bombs. It is widely believed that Israel has its own nuclear arsenal.

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Written by Dan Williams; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel

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