Fair-weather friend

These recent developments follow a trend that is extremely dangerous, and it appears that there is no longer someone in the White House fighting Iran.

By
September 12, 2019 20:48
3 minute read.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US Security Advisor John Bolton in Jerusalem, June 23, 2019

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US Security Advisor John Bolton in Jerusalem, June 23, 2019. (photo credit: EMIL SALMAN/HAARETZ)

With an election only four days away and endless campaign gimmicks and gaffes to discuss, perhaps US President Donald Trump’s tweets were not at the top of Israelis’ minds this week. But at least one development that has the potential to be very damaging for Israel took place on that front.

“I informed John Bolton last night that his services are no longer needed at the White House,” Trump tweeted on Tuesday. “I disagreed strongly with many of his suggestions, as did others in the Administration.”

The tweet came within hours of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announcing his intention to annex the Jordan Valley after the election. But more importantly, it came the day after Netanyahu revealed an additional Iranian nuclear development site in Abadeh, south of Isfahan.

As Herb Keinon reported, the prime minister showed satellite photos of the site taken this summer, followed by photos of an attempted cover-up.

The announcement was in response to IAEA acting director-general Cornel Feruta calling on Iran to explain how uranium particles were found at the Turquzabad site that Netanyahu revealed in his speech to the UN last year, which Tehran claimed was a carpet-cleaning facility. Netanyahu said uranium traces showed that Iran violated the non-proliferation treaty it signed.

Netanyahu called on the international community to “join President Trump’s sanctions to exert more pressure on Iran. The only way to stop Iran’s march to the bomb and its aggression in the region is pressure, pressure and more pressure.”

The next day, the most reliable backer of pressure on Iran – National Security Adviser John Bolton – was out of the White House over strong policy disagreements with the president. News soon leaked that one of the final blow-ups between Bolton and Trump was over the latter seeking to ease sanctions on Iran.

Following a recent suggestion from French President Emmanuel Macron, the American president has also said he’d be willing to meet with Iranian President Rouhani without preconditions despite evidence – provided by Netanyahu and supported by the IAEA – that Iran is violating the damaging nuclear deal negotiated by Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama.

Asked on Wednesday whether the US would ease up its “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran, Trump left open the possibility that he would ease sanctions, saying “We’ll see what happens.”

“I do believe they’d like to make a deal,” Trump added. “If they do, that’s great. If they don’t, that’s great too.”

Not long after, The Daily Beast reported that Trump is also open to a proposal from Macron to extend a $15b. line of credit to the Iranians if they comply with the Iran Deal.

These recent developments follow a trend that is extremely dangerous, and it appears that there is no longer someone in the White House fighting Iran.

Iran has never stopped cheating, and sanctions have been putting the necessary pressure on the regime. Lifting them now would squander all of Trump’s work before Tehran is ready to make real concessions. And a $15b. credit infusion would allow Iran to bolster its sponsorship of terrorism across the Middle East.

Trump has, thus far, been a good friend to Israel. Most of the Israeli political spectrum views his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and of the Golan Heights as part of Israel to be extremely positive; and while he plans to present his “Deal of the Century” later this month, he is not expected to put undue pressure on Israel.

But if Trump were to repeat his performance with Pyongyang – talking tough about North Korea before negotiating weakly without following up – in the Iranian arena, he would be putting Israel in great danger.

Trump needs to be a true friend to Israel, and not a fair-weather friend that would pander to those who seek to destroy us. The Iranian threat not only endangers Israel; it is a matter of national security, and, as Netanyahu said, the way to handle it is through “pressure, pressure and more pressure.”


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