This week’s Washington visit by Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, on Oct. 12-14, slightly eased the pessimism and deep concern that emerged from Jerusalem after the latest round of Israel-US talks on the Iran nuclear program, as described here in a previous article. It remains to be seen whether progress has been achieved between the sides on the troubling question of “what do we do about Iran,” or whether this shift simply reflects different nuances in the American tone and Lapid’s optimistic nature. As is generally the case in Israeli politics, the left is more hopeful than the right. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, for example, tends to pessimism.
An electronic microscope is required to detect tangible progress. Lapid and his people hailed the fact that Secretary of State Antony Blinken upgraded the stated US public position regarding Plan B, which is the alternative in case Iran refuses to return to the nuclear agreement. While President Joe Biden said following his Aug. 27 meeting with Bennett that if all diplomatic options are exhausted, the United States would examine “other options,” Blinken spoke of “every option.” With Emirati Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan to his left, and Lapid to his right, Blinken said at an Oct. 13 Washington news conference, “We will look at every option to deal with the challenge posed by Iran.”