image Photo: Reuters, Amos Ben-Gershom (GPO)

Bennett: Israel won’t be obligated to revived JCPOA

“Even if” nuclear negotiations to renew the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear accord with Iran succeed, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett declared Jerusalem “is of course not a party to the deal.”

By Jonathan Hessen and Erin Viner

During an address to the Security and Policy Conference held at Reichman University, the Israeli leader asserted that his nation is confronting Iran not only for itself but on behalf of the international community.

“We are situated in a significant point in this ongoing struggle; Israel against Iran, which is actually the struggle of the entire world against a radical Islamic regime that destabilizes the region continuously in its way to try and achieve Shi’ite hegemony under a nuclear umbrella,” he said, underscoring, “We face complicated times. It is possible that there will be disputes with the best of our friends. It won’t be the first time. In any event, even if there is a return to a deal, Israel is of course not a party to the deal and Israel is not obligated by the deal.”

Israel reserves the right to act to protect itself, stressed Bennett, explaining that Iranian development of nuclear weapons is at its “most advanced stage” and that international talks due to restart next week will do nothing to slow its pace.

Indirect talks to revive the 2015 accord, under which Tehran had agreed to curbs on its nuclear program in return for the lifting of international sanctions, are due to resume in Vienna next Monday after being stalled over the past 5 months.

Israel has long opposed the JCPOA as too weak to prevent Iran from pursuing a bomb. After former United States Republican President Donald Trump withdrew from the deal in 2018, the Ayatollah regime responded by openly violating critical nuclear limits. The current administration of Democratic President Joe Biden has been undertaking efforts to bring both sides back into compliance with the deal.

Jerusalem has also protested that the JCPOA failed to impede Iran’s missile program or terrorist activities by the Islamic Republic’s proxies in the region.

The Islamic Republic of Iran has repeatedly threatened to annihilate the Jewish State.

“During 3 decades, the #1 Enemy of Israel is the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Prime Minister Bennett stated, adding that “the resources invested by the State in dealing with the Iranian threats, i.e. the military, diplomatic, economic and technological ones, covert and overt, are of great magnitude.”

“One can see Iran’s reflection from every window in the State of Israel,” he stressed, explaining, “From the northeast – Shi’ite militias in Syria; from the north – Hezbollah, from the south – Hamas and the (Palestinian) Islamic Jihad.”

“The Iranians have encircled the State of Israel with missiles while they sit safely in Tehran. They hassle us from afar, drain out energy, cause us damage and all that without leaving their home, almost. They make us bleed, without paying a price. A convenient arrangement all in all,” argued the Israeli leader, insisting that, “The necessary conclusion is that this method of chasing the ‘terrorist du jour’ sent by the (Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ Expeditionary) Quds Force no longer makes sense – we must go for the dispatcher.”

That message was echoed during a separate address to the conference by Israeli Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman.

With or without an agreement, Iran will be a nuclear state and have a nuclear weapon within 5 years, tops,” he told those gathered. Minister Liberman, who is a member of Prime Minister Bennett’s security cabinet, emphasized that such progress would be unaffected by attempts at the Vienna Talks cap Tehran’s atomic technologies.

During a panel discussion at the Strategic Policy Conference, Israeli Air Force (IAF) Commander Major General Amikam Norkin noted that the IDF is preparing for a combined assault against Iran while tirelessly operating to frustrate entrenchment by the Islamic Republic’s Iran’s in Syria and elsewhere, which he said that “the military is developing the plan at the General Staff in a very coordinated manner with the political brass and we will see us and the separate arms of the IDF prepare for this.”

“Disrupt, prevent, reduce and identify capabilities. When we say Iranian presence we do not mean people. We mean weapon systems, radars, electronic warfare systems, unmanned aerial vehicles, missiles. We do not accept these things near the Israeli border and this thing (IAF Strikes) undoubtedly accomplishes extraordinary achievements,” stressed Gen. Norkin.

At a time when US enemies relentlessly attempt dissuade American regional allies from relying on its commitments – most notably in the wake of the withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Air Force chief described military ties between Jerusalem and Washington as unprecedently strong.

“The relations we have today, I allow myself to say – ‘in general’ with the US military and also with the US Air Force – are the best, closest and deepest that I can remember in all of my years of service,” he said, occurring on “a daily basis.”

Defense ties with Germany and other Western nations have also reached new heights. “The fact that the country of Germany, the German Air Force has a Wing at Tel Nof (Air Force base) and the country of Germany military hardware from Israeli industries, alongside additional countries; the fact that (foreign) commanders come here, train here, learn from us and we learn from them, this creates for us legitimacy in the world,” he said, adding that, “Those generals return to their respective countries and when we conduct an operation such as (May 2021) Guardians of the Walls (conflict with Gaza), they understand better how to explain our predicament, each one to his own country.”

The Israeli Air Force commander went on to assert that the greatest challenge to Israel’s security in the next several years also presents Jerusalem with a strategic opportunity – to create and defensive network with likeminded nations that face similar threats regularly.

“This threat of cruise missiles, suicide UAVs, offensive drones, is a development that will continue in the next several years. Therefore, we will see less of tank divisions and infantry corps that attack the borders of Israel. We will of course see missiles and rockets and UAVs that will try to penetrate Israel’s borders.”  “I think this is a great opportunity to create relations and to build a defensive plan for all of the countries which have mutual interests to protect themselves. We can be of great service, also by means of intelligence, by means of detection and also to intercept.”