With the election of Donald Trump, Israel is anticipating a U.S. administration that will be ready to sharpen the knives against Iran. But as events develop, Israel may not end up pushing Trump to scrap the nuclear deal that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu so ardently opposed. Bloomberg:
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is working to win from Donald Trump what he failed to wring from Barack Obama: a harder line against Iran. […]
While the goal may stop short of killing the multilateral nuclear deal, Netanyahu is expected to tell Trump that the U.S. needs to take a harder line against Iran’s military program and lead a more concerted global effort to keep the Islamic Republic’s regional aspirations in check, a senior Israeli official said.
That may include stronger retaliation and sanctions against Iranian ballistic missile development and greater efforts to block Iran’s growing clout in the region via proxies in Syria, Lebanon and the Gaza Strip, the official said.
“The urgent task is to stop Iran from becoming a superpower in the region, something that has been occurring for some time now,” said retired Major General Yaakov Amidror, Netanyahu’s former national security adviser. “The prime minister will argue, first and foremost, that the U.S. should work to diminish the partnership between Russia and Iran in the region.”
Like Netanyahu, Trump has decried the Iran nuclear deal, and he explicitly promised to “dismantle” it at his AIPAC speech in March. But in the wake of his victory, both Israeli and American opponents of the deal, like Senator Bob Corker, are urging caution.
The calculus on Iran that prevailed in the Obama administration—that in the long term Iran could become a stabilizing influence in the Middle East—has not been working out as hoped. Now, with the Middle East in chaos, Israel’s calculation seems to be that scuttling the deal outright would give Iran an excuse to abandon its obligations and rush toward the bomb. Perhaps the Israelis now see asconvincing the U.S. to use the deal’s enforcement mechanisms to tighten the screws on Tehran as the best available option. And who knows, maybe the Trump Administration might see it that way too.