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Netanyahu’s pick of Iran file envoy signals confrontation with US

Picking national security adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat over real Iran experts such as Mossad Chief Yossi Cohen or retired Gen. Amos Yadlin means that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu does not believe dialoguing with the Biden administration on Iran will do any good.
Head of Israel's National Security Council Meir Ben-Shabbat delivers a statement upon his arrival at the Bahraini International Airport on October 18, 2020. - Israel and Bahrain will officially establish diplomatic relations at a ceremony in Manama, an Israeli official said, after the two states reached a US-brokered normalisation deal last month. (Photo by RONEN ZVULUN / POOL / AFP) (Photo by RONEN ZVULUN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly appointed national security adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat as Israel’s special envoy on the Iran nuclear issue ahead of renewed negotiations expected between the United States and Iran. Ben-Shabbat will be tasked with all of Israel’s contacts with the United States and the other signatories to the agreement — Russia, China, the United Kingdom, France and Germany. Specifically, he will try to convince the Americans that removing the sanctions imposed by former President Donald Trump on Iran and returning to the 2015 nuclear deal would be a grave mistake.

Israel’s official view is that the United States must conduct negotiations on a new nuclear agreement from a position of strength, taking advantage of the levers it holds and of Iran’s weakness. The idea is to strive for a long-term agreement, one that will also deal with Iran’s missile project and state sponsorship of terrorism.

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