WASHINGTON – If the U.S. is curbing intelligence to Israel regarding international talks on Iran’s nuclear program, as alleged, the move does not extend to military cooperation, at least for now, Pentagon sources told WND.
“The United States has a deep commitment to the security of Israel and the importance of the U.S.-Israel defense relationship,” a Defense Department source said on condition of anonymity.
Unnamed Israeli sources have claimed the information flow to Israel regarding the progress of nuclear talks with Iran by the P5+1 countries slowed after the U.S. alleged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu mishandled the information he was receiving through a series of leaks.
The P5+1 countries are France, Britain, Russia, China and the United States – the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – plus Germany.
Because reports of a cutback in information-sharing between the U.S. and Israel are being attributed to unnamed Israeli government sources, “none of us actually knows what level of intelligence sharing is going on at the various levels between U.S. and Israel,” said Clare Lopez, who served in the CIA for 20 years and is senior vice president for research and analysis at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C.
According to the Defense sources, Obama administration officials claim Netanyahu has used intelligence regarding the talks selectively to promote his political standing at home in the face of March 3 elections and to undermine U.S. initiatives toward Iran.
The White House last week began to limit the details and the scope of information it had been sharing with the Jewish state on the talks, even though representatives from the U.S. and Israel continue to meet on a weekly basis, according to one senior Israeli official. The scope of the information exchanged is at a “lower resolution,” the official said.
The Israeli daily Haaretz reported the Obama administration has concluded Netanyahu has an “irreconcilable” conflict of interest regarding the Iranian nuclear program.
The P5+1 countries foresee constraining Iran’s nuclear program through an agreement by limiting its uranium enrichment capabilities under strict monitoring.
Netanyahu, however, doesn’t want an agreement. Instead, he wants the U.S. to take military action against Iranian nuclear facilities.
The confrontation with the Obama administration came to a head recently when Netanyahu accepted an invitation by House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to address a joint session of Congress, without first informing the White House.
According to sources, Netanyahu saw the joint session as an opportunity to bypass the White House and go directly to a more friendly Congress in making a case to oppose the negotiations and go further and impose more restrictive sanctions on Iran.
The Israeli daily Haaretz cited unnamed Israeli officials saying Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman, who is leading the U.S. negotiation team, had stopped updating Israeli counterparts on the Iran talks.
However, the White House and State Department denied any halt to in-depth briefings to Israel.
The turmoil surrounding Netanyahu and his bid for re-election has prompted one candidate for Israeli prime minister, Isaac Herzog, to declare that people are “fed up” with Netanyahu’s “politics of fear.”
Herzog, 54, whose grandfather was the first chief rabbi of Israel and whose father was one-time president of the country, served as social minister under Netanyahu until 2011.
“Iran is a hateful regime that spreads hate,” Herzog told Der Spiegel. “I think that the international community that is negotiating with Iran has to be stern. However, I think one needs to talk, in a quiet, professional manner, without any blame game, but with all options on the table. That is where I differ from Netanyahu.”
Netanyahu’s speech to a joint session of Congress is meant to make a case that sanctions on Iran need to be increased despite the ongoing nuclear talks.
“I think (sanctions have) to be part of a process, when we know that they are liquidating their nuclear program,” Herzog said.
“Netanyahu has isolated Israel within the family of nations,” Herzog asserted.
He was especially critical of Netanyahu’s upcoming appearance before Congress.
“I think it is totally unnecessary,” Herzog said.
“He should cancel this speech,” he said. “This appearance in Congress is adverse to Israeli interests and will only hamper further the relations between the government of Israel and the U.S. administration.”