Iranian drill in Strait of Hormuz (Photo: Ynet/MCT)
Ready for Labor Day weekend news flash? Hold onto your hats. Directly after Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Dempsey announced he wouldn’t want to be “complicit” if Israel attacked Iran, Ynet reports (via interlocutors) the U.S. has informed Iran we will not be backing any Israeli strike against Iranian nuclear facilities in return for Iran steering clear of attacking American assets in the Persian Gulf.
This is an explosive assertion. Reuters reports this is being “played down” by Israeli officials. The White House “did not immediately respond to a request for comment” on this report but gave more “no daylight between” lip service yesterday.
Israeli officials played down a report in an Israeli newspaper on Monday that accused Washington of secretly negotiating with Tehran to keep the United States out of a future Israel-Iran war.
Israel’s most widely-read newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, said Washington had approached Tehran through two unidentified European countries to convey the message that the United States would not be dragged into hostilities if Israel attacked Iran over its nuclear programme.
The paper said the United States told Iran it expected Tehran in return to refrain from retaliating against U.S. interests, including its military in the Gulf. The report did not disclose any source for its information.
An Israeli official, who asked not to be identified, described the report as illogical.
“It doesn’t make sense,” the official said. “There would be no need to make such a promise to the Iranians because they realise the last thing they need is to attack U.S. targets and draw massive U.S. bombing raids.”
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment over the Israeli newspaper story, which appeared during the Labor Day holiday.
The Obama administration says it is strongly committed to Israel’s security and to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. White House spokesman Jay Carney said on Sunday: “I can tell you that there is absolutely no daylight between the United States and Israel when it comes to the necessity of preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.”
Let’s not forget Israel’s demand for a statement from Obama about an attack on Iran by Yom Kippur or at the UN General Assembly on September 25. In the light of those demands, Dempsey’s statement is understandable, explosive, believable and revealing. But what do we make of this latest assertion regarding ‘negotiations’ with Iran? Sounds a little like the kind of stuff cooked up by the opposition during an election cycle!
Things are heating up, that’s for sure.
Israel’s top-selling daily Yedioth Ahronoth reported on Friday that there had been an “unprecedented” and “angry” exchange between Netanyahu and the U.S. ambassador in Tel Aviv earlier this month over Iran.
Quoting a source who was present at the meeting, Netanyahu had criticised Obama for not doing enough to tackle Iran. The U.S. ambassador Daniel Shapiro took exception and accused the prime minister of distorting Obama’s position.
Update: Reuters is now reporting U.S. denies Israeli newspaper report of secret Iran contacts.