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How Israel is feeding fire of US-Iran escalation

Instead of stoking the fire and congratulating US President Donald Trump over the killing of Iran’s Qasem Soleimani, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should look at the larger picture.
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One cannot blame Israel’s interim Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for jumping the line to praise President Donald Trump’s “determined, strong and quick action" in assassinating Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani. Almost no one in the world is more involved in the conflict between the United States and Iran than the Israeli prime minister accused of bribery, fraud and breach of trust. The signal for the deterioration from diplomacy to the violence that is now threatening a conflagration in the Middle East was given with Trump’s 2018 decision to pull the United States out of the nuclear deal with Iran and restore sanctions on the regime, subsequently tightening them. As Netanyahu himself testified, he was the one who convinced Trump to withdraw from the world powers’ agreement with Tehran.

A senior Israeli military source told our colleague Ben Caspit last month that Soleimani was adept at keeping Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei away from Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and the country’s Reformists. Soleimani would likely not have managed it without the help of the Trump-Netanyahu duo. Their rejection of the 2015 nuclear agreement and refusal to demand improvements in the deal rather than jettisoning it weakened Iran’s pragmatists. Khamenei backed the nuclear agreement at the time, overriding Soleimani’s objections and expressing public support for Rouhani’s engagement policy. The US withdrawal from the deal and its tightened sanctions on Iran portrayed the Iranian president as a leader led astray by the West, and embarrassed Khamenei, as well. In the zero-sum game between the pragmatic and Soleimani camps, the result was one-nil in favor of the latter.

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