On the man-made island where the Four Seasons hotel stands in Manama, the capital of the tiny kingdom of Bahrain, Israeli national security adviser Eyal Hulata is in friendly territory. In this high tower, which dominates the business district and the waters of the Persian Gulf, this former Mossad, the Israeli foreign intelligence service, conducted, Sunday, November 21, a rare exercise of public diplomacy.
M. Hulata, a doctor of physics and a thin-voiced amateur jazz trumpeter, aged 45, hardly tastes the light. But this is the lot of the so-called Abrahamic agreements, which in 2020 allowed the normalization of Israel’s relations with Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Morocco and, more confusedly, Sudan. At the Manama Dialogue, an annual forum organized by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), a British research center, Hulata preached firmness in the face of Iran, to his partners in the Gulf and the greater common American godfather.
Israel views with concern the resumption, scheduled for November 29 in Vienna, of international negotiations on the Iranian nuclear program. These sluggish talks, which began in April, have remained at a standstill since the election of the new Iranian president, Ebrahim Raïssi, in June. During this interval, Israel has managed, willy-nilly, to keep under wraps its dissension with its American ally, which seeks to save what can be saved from the 2015 agreement. But as the deadline approaches, their disagreements end up seeing each other.
Mr. Hulata expressed them in public on Sunday, saying how little faith the Jewish state has in the Democratic administration’s restraint vis-à-vis Tehran, an attitude that is supposed to facilitate an agreement. “Iran will not concede anything just because we have asked it nicely. This is not how the regime behaves “, he says.
A long time for Israel
The US withdrawal from the nuclear deal in 2018 prompted Tehran to step up its program. This is the result of the “maximum pressure” policy undertaken by the Trump administration against Tehran, in close cooperation with Israel. For Israel, this boomerang effect does not justify easing the sanctions that still weigh on Tehran, unchanged, or putting an end to clandestine operations against its nuclear installations and attacks against its relays in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. “Over the years, there have been several pressure campaigns against Iran (…) and they were a success, to force Iran to change its policies ”, he assures. Whether the Vienna talks fail, as Israel expects, or succeed, the Jewish state fits into a longer time frame. On Tuesday, his prime minister, Naftali Bennett, expressed no less by saying that “Even if the agreement [nucléaire] is revived, Israel will not be held “ to comply with its terms.
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Iranian nuclear: Israel calls for more firmness against Tehran