A few days ahead of his meeting with President Biden, Israel’s new Prime Minister Naftali Bennett spoke with The New York Times and said he will continue covert attacks against Iran and will oppose any US efforts to revive the nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA.
Israel has a long history of taking covert action against Iran, but Israeli leaders usually aren’t so candid about it. The Times report said that Bennett plans to present Biden with a new "strategic vision" for Iran that includes more "clandestine attacks" on Iran, including what Bennett referred to as "the gray-area stuff."
One of Israel’s recent attacks on Iran targeted the Natanz nuclear facility in April. It coincided with the start of indirect negotiations between the US and Iran to revive the JCPOA and was a clear effort by the Israelis to sabotage the talks.
Another aspect of Bennett’s vision is for Israel to strengthen ties with Arab countries in the region that oppose Iran. Forming an anti-Iran coalition was part of the reason for the Trump administration-brokered Abraham Accords that led to Israel normalizing with some Arab countries, including the UAE and Bahrain.
"What we need to do, and what we are doing, is forming a regional coalition of reasonable Arab countries, together with us, that will fend off and block this expansion and this desire for domination [by Iran]," Bennett said.
Bennett favors many of the same policies as his predecessor Benjamin Netanyahu, but he wants to take a different approach. Netanyahu publicly clashed with the Obama administration when the JCPOA was negotiated in 2015, which Bennett hopes to avoid.
The big reset: President Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett want to use their meeting on Thursday to project that the U.S.-Israeli relationship is off to a fresh start, Israeli and U.S. officials tell me. My story on @axios https://t.co/PjTEPUc1vi— Barak Ravid (@BarakRavid) August 25, 2021
Bennett said he will continue expanding illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank, something the Biden administration says it is against. The Israeli leader also ruled out the idea of peace talks with the Palestinians.