French, UK envoys arrive to brief Israel on Iran deal

Channel 2 poll shows majority of Israelis back Netanyahu's recent criticism of the Obama administration's Iran policy.

By MICHAEL WILNER IN WASHINGTON,
November 27, 2013 01:06
4 minute read.
Director-General for Political and Security Affairs at the French Foreign Ministry Jacques Audibert.

French nuclear negotiator Jacques Audibert 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Fabrice Coffrini/Pool )

 
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A top French envoy arrived in Jerusalem on Tuesday and a British envoy is set to arrive on Wednesday to brief Israeli officials and discuss the next moves following the signing of the nuclear deal signed in Geneva earlier this week.

Jacques Audibert, the top French negotiator with Iran, arrived in Jerusalem on Tuesday, and his British counterpart Simon Gass is to arrive for the same purpose on Wednesday.

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Among the Israeli officials they are meeting are Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz and National Security Adviser Yossi Cohen.

Cohen is expected to lead an Israeli team to Washington in the coming days to coordinate positions with the US.

The arrival of the two European diplomats comes as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu indicated that he wants to actively engage with the P5+1, which will now negotiate a comprehensive agreement with Iran over the parameters of a possible comprehensive agreement and what will happen when the interim agreement expires in six months.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague phoned Steinitz on Tuesday and said he hoped Israel could get behind the interim agreement and play a “full and constructive” part in the coming months, during the negotiations.

A Channel 2 poll conducted Tuesday night showed that a majority of Israelis backed Prime Minister Netanyahu’s recent criticism of the Obama administration’s Iranian policy, with 58 percent saying the criticism was justified, and 28% saying it was not.



In addition, most Israelis – 60% – said that the agreement endangered Israel, while 25% said it did not.

In a related development, the country’s security cabinet met for some eight hours on Tuesday for the annual intelligence assessment given by the Mossad and Military Intelligence, and though no details were given, much of the meeting was believed to have focused on Iran.

US President Barack Obama lashed out against critics of the nuclear deal with Iran.

Addressing several audiences on a tour of the West Coast, Obama referred to opponents of the deal as “blusterous” players on the international stage.

“Huge challenges remain, but we cannot close the door on diplomacy, and we cannot rule out peaceful solutions to the world’s problems. We cannot commit ourselves to an endless cycle of conflict,” Obama said in San Francisco late Monday.

“We cannot rule out peaceful solutions to the world’s problems. Tough talk and bluster may be the easy thing to do politically, but it’s not the right thing for our security.”

Top Republicans and hawkish Democrats have shared Israel’s criticism of the US and the other five world powers for reaching an interim agreement with Iran on Sunday.

Members of the US Congress seek additional sanctions against Iran’s oil sector, should world powers fail to reach a final agreement with Iran in the next six months – a deadline that was selfimposed in the interim deal.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Tuesday that the secretary of state would be “very engaged” with his former colleagues in the Senate on the issue, but added, “not everything has to be a showdown.”

Psaki warned against additional legislation for the time being, saying “it could divide the P5+1,” and that “it could have the opposite impact of what is intended.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who schedules markups and votes for bills, as well as Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Robert Menendez have both reacted to the deal with cautious optimism, and say that any legislation they will consider in December, after the Thanksgiving holiday, will respect the sixmonth time frame.

Psaki said that any bill at this time would put the “outcome of the negotiations at risk” and would violate “the spirit” of the agreement.

An Iranian official said that the agreement allows his country to trade oil with greater ease.

“Based on this deal, Iran’s crude oil exports will not decline and our customers will be able to purchase oil from Iran without any anxiety, and they will not have to look for alternatives,” Ali Majedi, Iran’s deputy minister for international affairs and trading, told Shana, the oil ministry news service.

The White House, in its explanation of the deal, published on Sunday, acknowledged that Iran’s oil markets will be stabilized – but only after a slash of over 60% in the past two years.

Sanctions relief included in the interim deal will “allow purchases of Iranian oil to remain at their currently significantly reduced levels,” the US document reads.

“$4.2b. from these sales will be allowed to be transferred in installments if, and as, Iran fulfills its commitments.”

The short-term nuclear deal reached between Iran and world powers over the weekend, hailed in political classes throughout capitals from Moscow to Washington, has been greeted with skepticism by Wall Street.

Markets expressed doubts, on Tuesday, that the deal could have significant impact on oil prices in the short term or on the long-term, decades-old standoff.

The US dollar slipped and oil prices crept up as pressure remained tight on world share markets.

Brent crude rose 37 cents to $111.37 a barrel. It plunged as much as $3 on Monday but recouped most of those losses to end 5 cents down. US crude slipped 16 cents to $93.93.

Reuters contributed to this report.


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