The United States and Israel will meet to discuss the nuclear deal and Iran, which has said it will not budge unless its sanctions are lifted.
The United States and Israel have chosen to reconvene a strategic working group to discuss Iran, and the first round of intelligence talks on the Iranian nuclear program are expected to take place in the coming days, Axios has learned. .
This is important because President Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have very contrasting views on the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, but the resumption of the task force is a sign that their governments are starting with a serious and professional dialogue rather than political struggle.
It should be remembered that the task force was established in the early days of the Obama administration after a visit to the Netanyahu White House in 2009. The top-secret forum was even given a special code name.
It was the main stage for strategizing on how to apply pressure to Iran during Obama’s first term, and it became the main stage for voicing disagreements on the nuclear deal during Obama’s second term.
During Donald Trump’s tenure, the forum met to discuss US withdrawal from the nuclear deal and to coordinate the “maximum pressure” campaign.
The forum is headed by national security advisers for the United States and Israel, currently Jake Sullivan and Meir Ben-Shabbat, and includes senior officials from the various national security, foreign policy and intelligence agencies in both countries.
Sullivan proposed resuming the task force in his first phone call with Ben-Shabat on January 23.
Israel was involved in an inter-agency disagreement over how to interact with the White House on Iran, and the decision to accept the proposal was further delayed by internal Israeli turmoil ahead of next month’s elections.
First meeting of Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel
On Monday, Netanyahu held the first high-level inter-agency meeting on Iran with Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi and the heads of the other intelligence and national security agencies.
The meeting began with the various agencies providing updates on their commitments to date with the Biden administration, to provide a complete picture of what had been discussed through the various channels, sources familiar with the meeting told me.
Then came proposals on how to interact with the Joe Biden administration in the future. The directors of the Mossad intelligence agency and the Israel Defense Forces emphasized the need for a calm dialogue, free from public clashes.
The main point of action was the decision to accept the proposal to resume the working group.
What will Israel and the United States talk about at the forum?
The top Israeli priority at the first meeting, which will take place via a secure video conferencing system, is to present all the latest intelligence and data on Iran’s nuclear program and assess whether the intelligence images from the United States and Israel are line up.
Israeli sources familiar with the matter say that a mutual intelligence baseline should be established before moving on to policy discussions.
Netanyahu was quick to express his concern last Friday after Secretary of State Tony Blinken said the United States was prepared to begin nuclear talks with Iran aimed at restoring the 2015 agreement.