(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
The world powers and Iran are headed to a nuclear agreement, even if Tuesday's deadline is not met, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said on Monday.
Ya'alon, at a briefing in his Tel Aviv office with diplomatic reporters, said that despite some last minute delays, the negotiations were not on the verge of collapse.
"What is clear is that this is a bad agreement," he said. "After it is signed we will have a nuclear threshold Iran."
The Defense Minister said that one of the fundamental disagreements between Washington and Jerusalem over the agreement is that while Israel sees Iran as the main problem in the region, while the US views it as part of the solution.
Regarding the situation in Gaza and Hamas, Ya'alon denied that Israel was holding talks with the terrorist organization.
Ya'alon said that Israel will definitely not break the Quartet conditions placed on engagement with Hamas: that the organization forswear terrorism, recognize Israel, and accept previous Israel-Palestinian agreements.
However, he said, Israel does engage with the UN and the Palestinian Authority to ensure the transfer of aid and materials into Gaza, which is controlled by Hamas.
"Long term truces" are not being discussed, he said. Asked why some Hamas officials are speaking of contact with Israel, he said that they have an interest in complicating matters for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Ya'alon said that unlike previous rounds of fighting in Gaza in 200-2009 and 2013, after which Hamas smuggled into Gaza significant amounts of weaponry, they have been unable to do this following Operation Protective Edge because Egypt has largely destroyed the smuggling tunnels, and because of Israel's naval blockade.
As a result, he said, the terrorist organizations in Gaza are trying to manufacture their own rockets.
He sad the recent sporadic rocket fire from Gaza
was the result of rival Islamic terror groups challenging Hamas, and that Hamas was for the most part honoring the cease-fire. Israel response to this rocket fire is two fold: to hit the organization directly responsible if possible, and also to hit at Hamas, which has overall responsibility for what is taking place in the region under its control.