Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures during his appearance before Congress.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
A meeting between Mossad head Tamir Pardo and a delegation of US senators in January continues to make waves nearly two months later with the Prime Minister’s Office declining Sunday to respond to a report that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tried to block the meeting.
On Saturday, Time Magazine reported that Netanyahu wanted to nix the briefing.
According to the report, Tennessee Republican Bob Corker, the head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, had requested the January 19 briefing for six of his colleagues traveling to Israel so the Mossad could warn them that a Senate proposal for stiffer sanctions might inadvertently collapse the talks.
The report said that when Netanyahu took the meeting off the schedule, Corker threatened to cut short his own trip to Israel. Only after Israel’s ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer, intervened, was the meeting placed back on the schedule.
When the meeting became public in January, Pardo issued a rare statement following reports that he had told the delegation increasing sanctions at the time would “be like throwing a grenade into the process.”
Pardo denied that the Mossad was lobbying US lawmakers against stiffer Iran sanctions.
Were the Mossad to take that position, it would have directly contradicted Netanyahu’s position, which is for tougher sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
According to the Mossad statement, Pardo met the Senate delegation and emphasized the “exceptional effectiveness of the sanctions imposed on Iran in recent years,” noting that the sanctions are what drove Iran to the negotiating table. Pardo said it was ”essential” in talks with Iran to present both carrots and sticks, and that currently the sticks were lacking.
He also said that, in the absence of strong pressure, the Iranians would not make meaningful compromises.
Regarding the use of the phrase “throwing a grenade,” the statement clarified that Pardo did not use that expression regarding the imposition of sanctions, which he believes are the “sticks” necessary to reach a “good deal” with Iran.
Rather, the statement read, Pardo used the expression “as a metaphor to describe the possibility of creating a temporary crisis in the negotiations at the end of which talks would resume under improved conditions.”