A senior member of the Israeli Knesset said in remarks broadcast on Saturday that Israel might accept an understanding between its archenemy Iran and the United States if it included strict supervision of Tehran’s nuclear program.
Iranian and Western officials said Washington, Israel’s main ally, was in talks with Tehran to outline steps that could include curbing Iran’s nuclear program.
These steps can be described as an understanding rather than an agreement because the US Congress must review any agreement, such as the 2015 agreement that former President Donald Trump abandoned in 2018.
“It’s not an agreement in its broadest sense, it’s more like a small agreement, or a memorandum of understanding… and I think Israel can live with this if there is real supervision,” said Yuli Edelstein, head of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Security Committee, in an interview with a program on Israel’s Channel 12.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office declined to comment on whether Edelstein’s comments reflect the prime minister’s views.
“Our position is clear, any agreement with Iran won’t be binding on Israel, which will do everything necessary to defend itself,” Netanyahu said Tuesday in televised remarks before a meeting with the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.
“Our opposition to the agreement, i.e. The return to the original agreement of 2015 is effective, I think,” he added.
“But there are still differences regarding the future and we do not hide them, regarding smaller agreements as well… We have been declaring our position clearly, in both closed and open sessions”.
One of the key elements of the potential understanding, which is still shrouded in mystery, is how far Iran might agree to reduce the degree of uranium enrichment.
This month, Israeli officials from Netanyahu’s inner circle gave mixed views on the issue.
The Israeli National Security Adviser, Tzachi Hanegbi, said that Israel does not see the same amount of harm in any new understanding as in the 2015 agreement, but remains ready for any Iranian change to enrich uranium with a purity of more than 60%.
“This would indeed be a clear admission that uranium enrichment is carried out to meet weapons needs,” Hanegbi added in an interview published Friday in the Israel Hayom (Israel Today) newspaper, referring to the 90% purity needed to make a nuclear bomb.
However, Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dremer, who accompanied Hanegbi to Washington for talks on Iran, last week expressed skepticism about any freezing of current enrichment levels.
“This means acceptance of a higher level of enrichment in Iran,” he told the American Jewish Committee (AJC) Global Forum in Tel Aviv.
“We thought it was a bad idea then and we think it’s a bad idea today”.
After failing to revive the 2015 agreement, US President Joe Biden’s administration hopes to re-impose some restrictions on Iran to prevent it from acquiring a nuclear weapon that could threaten Israel and launch an arms race in the region.
The US government denies reports it is seeking an interim agreement with Tehran, which denies it wants to build a nuclear bomb.