Israel’s National Security Adviser, Yaakov Amidror, has embarked on a tour, meeting various European officials who are involved in the Iran nuclear negotiations. According to Ha’aretz, these talks have been described as “extremely sensitive” by a senior government official.
Amidror met [in Brussels] on Monday with Helga Schmid, who serves as the European Union's deputy secretary general for political affairs, under Catherine Ashton. On Tuesday, Amidror will continue to meet European officials in Brussels, before heading for Berlin on Wednesday. In Germany, Amidror is expected to meet with his German counterpart, Christoph Heusgen, and with Germany's representative in the talks with Iran, Hans-Dieter Lucas.
Two weeks ago, Amidror visited Moscow for a similar set of talks. He met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov…
A senior Israeli official ….indicated that Amidror hopes to find out much more about the first round of talks with Iran and will ask for an explanation of the negotiating team's strategy for the second round of negotiations.
The goal of the Amidror mission was described as bringing the Israelis up to date on the status of the talks. However, it is probable that the Israeli will explain his country’s position and attempt to pressure the Europeans to limit their concessions to Iran.
Israel is in continuous contact with the Americans concerning all aspects of the Iran negotiations. Since Israel has enormous political leverage with the Obama administration through the pro-Israel lobby, it has already become a de facto party to the talks. The meetings between Amidror and the Europeans will give the Israelis an opportunity to also directly influence the Europeans.
Although the Europeans are not beholden to the Israelis like the Americans, they are hardly unsympathetic or impervious to pressure from the Jewish state. Israel has been very successful in getting trade concessions, diplomatic support and help in prohibiting European activists from traveling to Palestine/Israel from the Europeans. I imagine that Amidror will pull out all the stops in order to influence the negotiations, especially on the enrichment issue.
According to David Ignatius in the Washington Post, a deal is already in the works in which Iran would cease enriching uranium to 20%, but maintain its right to enrich at lower levels. Ignatius claims that the Israelis are in on the deal and that the vehement protests by Netanyahu are “his expected role in this choreography.” At least this is what the Washington Post reporter was told by American officials.
The Israelis, however, continue to belittle the negotiations, threaten unilateral military force and declare they will not permit Iran to enrich uranium. These positions could put them on a collision course with the Obama administration. If this is all bluff, as Ignatius and others maintain, by continuing to play the game to the hilt, the Israelis assure that they will be humiliated when their duplicity is revealed. But playing along with the Americans does not appear to fit the image of Netanyahu or Barak who have often defied the international community and are not known for playing along.
The aggressive Israeli campaign to impose its will upon the Iranians continues. On Sunday, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon appearing at a New York City pro-Israel conference declared that Israel would not permit Iran to enrich uranium. Then Monday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said he had little faith in the ongoing negotiations, warned of the dangers of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons and indirectly threatened unilateral military action. A couple of weeks ago, Barak stated that Israel would attack Iran during the ongoing negotiations if it felt that it was appropriate to do so.
Maybe the Israelis are “expected” to play along with what Obama and the five other world powers decide about Iran, but it is far from clear that Netanyahu and Barak intend to meet this expectation.