Iran nuclear deal hopes rise as foreign ministers fly into Geneva
UK, US, French and German representatives visit as Kerry and Ashton 'discuss draft statement' with Iranian counterpart Zarif
Julian Borger and Saeed Kamali Dehghan in Geneva
The Guardian, Saturday 9 November 2013
Link to video: Iran nuclear talks: very good progress made, says Haguehttp://www.theguardian.com/world/video/2013/nov/09/iran-nuclear-talks-very-good-progress-says-hague-video
John Kerry, William Hague and foreign ministers from France and Germany all made unplanned flights to Geneva on Friday in an attempt to seal a nuclear deal with Iran and end a decade-long impasse with the country.
There were also reports on Friday night that the Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, was flying in, despite earlier official denials that he would attend. The convergence on Switzerland of ministers from major world powers was meant to boost negotiations that have been under way since Thursday among senior officials.
As the talks closed on Friday night, officials were saying that the negotiations had been productive and that they would resume again on Saturday morning.
Kerry put off a planned trip to Morocco and Algeria to focus on the Geneva talks, while Iranian journalists were told to delay flights back to Tehran.
The focus of the talks shifted from formal sessions at Geneva's Palace of Nations to impromptu meetings at the European mission hosted by the EU foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton. Kerry, Hague, the French foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, and his German counterpart, Guido Westerwelle, gathered there. After night fell, Ashton and Kerry met the Iranian foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, for three-way discussions that western officials described as the key session of the talks so far.
The officials said Kerry's arrival did not signal that a deal was ready to be signed but rather that the issues dividing the sides had risen to a level that only foreign ministers, in consultation with their heads of government, could resolve.
The aim of the talks is to agree a joint statement laying out a roadmap towards a peaceful resolution of the nuclear standoff. Iranian officials said a draft of the statement had been completed by the time Ashton, Kerry and Zarif met at the EU mission.
According to Zarif and western officials, it was to include details of an interim deal that would slow down Iranian uranium enrichment and relax some sanctions, providing time to work out a more comprehensive, long-term agreement. The outline of that goal would also be sketched out in the joint statement, on Iranian insistence. Zarif has said he does not want to negotiate piecemeal accords without knowing what the end point of the process would be.
Kerry arrived in Geneva in the early afternoon after a stormy meeting with the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, who made clear that he rejected the intended interim deal with Iran on the grounds that it represented a step towards dismantling sanctions without a total halt to Iranian enrichment.
Western officials said Netanyahu's remarks were aimed at his own rightwing supporters and that his vocal opposition would eventually make it easier to "sell a deal" to the Tehran leadership and Iranian public.
The White House said President Obama called Netanyahu on Friday to smooth things over. "The president provided the prime minister with an update on negotiations in Geneva and underscored his strong commitment to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, which is the aim of the ongoing negotiations between the P5+1 and Iran," according to a White House description of the call. "The president and prime minister agreed to continue to stay in touch on this issue."
On arriving in Geneva, Kerry said he had come at Ashton's invitation to help close the deal with Iran.
"I want to emphasise there are still some very important issues on the table that are unresolved. It is important for those to be properly, thoroughly addressed," the US secretary of state said. "We hope to try to narrow those differences, but I don't think anybody should mistake that there are some important gaps that have to be closed."
Fabius, who arrived two hours earlier, said he had made the impromptu trip "because these negotiations are difficult but important for the regional and international security".
He said: "It is a question of reaching an agreement which represents a first solid step in addressing the international concerns over the Iranian nuclear programme. There has been a lot of progress, but so far nothing has been finalised."
Majid Takht-Ravanchi, an Iranian deputy foreign minister, confirmed in the afternoon that a draft agreement had been drawn up and would be discussed at the crucial meeting involving Ashton, Kerry and Zarif.
"The text is ready and the initial negotiations about this text will be made in this trilateral meeting," Takht-Ravanchi was quoted as saying by the semi-official Mehr news agency.
He added: "We have announced that banking and oil sanctions should also be discussed in the first step."
If that is true, and Iran is insisting on such large-scale sanction relief as part of the first step, it would signal a serious obstacle to agreement. Senior US officials have made it clear they do not think major oil and banking sanctions should be part of an initial confidence-building accord.
Meanwhile, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed that its head, Yukiya Amano, would visit Tehran on Monday in an attempt to accelerate parallel long-running talks between Iran and the agency aimed at clearing up allegations about past Iranian nuclear work.
Iran has claimed the allegations are based on forged evidence, but western intelligence claims that until at least 2003 Iran had a large-scale programme to create weapons. The IAEA has frequently complained that the previous Iranian government did not co-operate with its investigation, but agency officials have said since the election of reformist president Hassan Rouhani in June that the situation has improved.
*****************Rouhani's diplomatic progress in Geneva keeps Iran's hardliners at bay
Rivalry between factions in Tehran means many Iranian fundamentalists would prefer that the nuclear talks fail
Saeed Kamali Dehghan in Geneva
theguardian.com, Friday 8 November 2013 19.39 GMT
From his room in Geneva's InterContinental hotel on Friday morning, the Iranian foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, could take in the sweeping view of Mont Blanc looming over Lake Geneva before an intensive day of diplomacy with his US and European counterparts.
Many would take in this idyllic vista and think of skiing and hiking, but for Iran's most senior diplomat it might well suggest the "mountain of challenges" – as the Persian idiom has it – that he and President Hassan Rouhani face back home. As Zarif met the EU's foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, and prepared to shake the hands of the US secretary of state, John Kerry, hardliners in Tehran made clear they were still opposed to the United States and feared any prospect of an agreement in Geneva.
"Death to America," chanted crowds sympathetic to the elite Revolutionary Guards and its voluntary Basij militia gathered at Tehran University in the centre of the city for Friday prayers. The Geneva talks were held on Thursday and Friday, the Iranian weekend, which is likely to have reduced the public backlash in Iran, but still the hardliners made their voices heard.
The leader of Tehran's Friday prayers, Ayatollah Ali Movahedi Kermani, said in remarks broadcast live on national radio that any deal with the west would be detrimental to Iran. "It's harmful to underestimate the enemy because they do nothing but play tricks," Kermani said. "Our enemy would not rest even for a moment. If we underestimate the enemy, we will definitely get hurt."
The imam was particularly critical of assurances Kerry gave to Israel's prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, before leaving Tel Aviv for Geneva. "The US secretary of state has promised Netanyahu that he will not do a bad deal with Iran," he said. "This means that they will not agree to anything that is harmful for them – which means they will not make a good deal with Iran."
Reflecting remarks this week by Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has said that he is not optimistic about the talks, Kermani said: "I don't think the talks will bear fruit. They [the enemy] are not going to stop their hostility towards us."
Despite Kermani's warning, Rouhani's diplomacy appears to have the support of Khamenei, who has ultimate power in all state matters. Khamenei has criticised those who labelled Iran's nuclear negotiators "compromisers", warning that they had a difficult mission and no one should "weaken an official who is busy with work".
Iran's conservative-dominated parliament has so far been silent about the trajectory of the talks, although a group of MPs criticised Rouhani's team for keeping the details of a possible accord secret from the public and called them to parliament for questioning. Others said it was necessary the talks remained secret at this stage.
On Friday, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, the head of the parliamentary committee on national security and foreign policy, signalled his approval of the Geneva talks. He told the Isna news agency that the ground had been prepared for an agreement that would ease western sanctions and that it was compatible with Iran's national interests.
Khamenei's backing of Zarif's team means many of the more hawkish fundamentalists have refrained from criticising the new government's diplomacy directly. Instead, they have warned against giving in to the west's demands. Before Rouhani's largely successful visit to the UN in New York in September, Khamenei gave him more authority by talking of "heroic flexibility". That visit brought a historic phone conversation between Rouhani and Barack Obama, the first direct talks between Iranian and US leaders since the 1979 Islamic revolution.
"Khamenei himself is also under lots of pressure," an Iranian analyst said, asking not to be identified. "The hardliners in the Revolutionary Guards are surrounding him all the time and sabotaging Rouhani's diplomacy by injecting scepticism about Americans and their intentions."
As Rouhani passes his first 100 days in office, he can claim credit for a number of election promises that have been fulfilled. A number of leading activists have been released from prison and Tehran has taken serious steps to improve ties with the west, not least breaking the 34-year taboo of talking directly to the US at the highest level.
A Tehran University professor, Sadegh Zibakalam, said by telephone that he anticipated a historic moment in Iran's relationship with the west. "We didn't expect this, but it seems that Rouhani's 'key' is opening many doors and a historic agreement may be under way," he said, referring to the key Rouhani adopted as the symbol of his election campaign.
"We don't know much about the details of this possible deal but to me what's important is that for the first time in 35 years since the 1979 Islamic republic, it appears Iran and the west are trusting each other despite sabotage by hardliners in Iran, in Washington or Tel Aviv.
For the first time, it seems Iran has trusted the US and Europe's words that they are not seeking regime change and that the sole issue here is the nuclear programme. The west, on the other hand, seems to have taken Iran's word that it will open the doors to IAEA inspectors and have nothing to hide."
Zibakalam said hardliners in Tehran were driven by rivalry with Rouhani's moderate administration. "It is partly true that in general, hardliners don't want the Rouhani team to succeed.
"They are even ready to sacrifice national interests for their political gains and internal rivalry," he said. "There is also a third group of people who really don't believe we should have any sort of dialogue or relations with the west."
**************Background: Iran’s Nuclear Program and Possible Steps to a Broad Agreement
Click to view: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/11/08/world/middleeast/Background-Irans-Nuclear-Program-And-Possible-Steps-to-a-Broad-Agreement.html
*******************Hawks squawk even before Iran nuclear deal is sealed
Opposition from Israel and others should be tempered by the fact agreement looks likely to be phased, limited and reversible
Ian Black, Middle East editor
theguardian.com, Friday 8 November 2013 15.36 GMT
Hardliners in Tehran, hawks in Tel Aviv and Washington, nervous Saudis and their Gulf allies are all alarmed at the prospect of a nuclear deal between Iran, the US and the international community.
Initial reactions from conservative opponents of President Hassan Rouhani have been predictably critical - with warnings that all sanctions had to be lifted and Iran's right to uranium enrichment recognised before confidence-building measures could proceed.
So were the openly angry words from the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, still hinting at a unilateral strike on Iran's nuclear facilities. The agreement reached in Switzerland was, he warned, "the deal of the century" for the Islamic Republic. But Israel – with its own undeclared atomic arsenal – would not be bound by it.
In the US, suspicions look likely to harden on Capitol Hill as the crucial details of the Geneva agreement, and especially any relief from sanctions, become clear. The White House has already had to urge Congress not to tie its hands in the talks with Iran.
Saudi Arabia, which has dramatically demonstrated its chagrin at Barack Obama's policies towards both Iran and Syria, kept silent on Friday. But no one has forgotten – thanks to WikiLeaks – King Abdullah's famous call to "cut off the head of the snake" in Tehran. Warnings this week that the kingdom may acquire its own nuclear weapons from Pakistan were a reminder – perhaps a deliberate one – of the high stakes being played for in the Middle East. The United Arab Emirates is also likely to be deeply unhappy about the beginning of a rapprochement between its powerful regional rival and traditional protector.
The US secretary of state, John Kerry, who was putting the finishing touches to the P5 + 1 agreement in Geneva, has already had to reassure the Gulf states, as well as Jordan and Egypt, that America will not allow them to be targeted by Iran. Bahrain, with its restive and repressed Shia majority, worries in particular about this. Tehran, warned one influential Gulf commentator, could interpret a nuclear agreement as "American acquiescence in Iranian meddling in their allies affairs".
Opposition everywhere should, however, be tempered by the fact that the emerging deal looks likely to be phased, limited and reversible, offering partial relief from crippling sanctions in return for verifiable progress on international monitoring of Iran's nuclear programme.
In the Islamic Republic, the key to momentum will be sufficiently tangible economic improvements to build up the popular support Rouhani needs to bolster his position vis-a-vis diehard conservatives and the Revolutionary Guards, imbued with decades of suspicion towards the US, the west and their Arab allies. The continuing confrontation over the war in Syria, where Tehran and Lebanon's Hezbollah back Bashar al-Assad to the hilt while the Saudis support the Sunni rebels, has been a vivid reminder of Iran's regional reach and influence. For the moment though, Rouhani appears to enjoy the backing of Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has urged critics "not to consider our negotiators as compromisers".
Israel's ill-tempered opposition – even before anything has been formally agreed – looks set to further strain its already tense relations with Washignton. "Netanyahu unwise to challenge US so openly/dismissively on possible Iran nuclear deal," tweeted Nicholas Burns, a former senior US diplomat. "Netanyahu's outburst was a serious tactical error." The Israeli prime minister has taken a hard line on this issue for years, so it is no surprise he is taking the news badly. It is still hard to imagine, however, that Israel would attack Iran – even if it has the military capability to do so alone – while a prolonged and internationally backed agreement is in place.
****************White House ambitions on Iran deal face challenge from hawks in Congress
Hopes that US will announce short-team deal Iran nuclear plans could be frustrated by bid to impose new sanctions on Tehran
Spencer Ackerman in Washington
theguardian.com, Friday 8 November 2013 22.16 GMT
As soon as the Obama administration reaches an anticipated deal with Iran over its nuclear program, it will face a new challenge that threatens to strangle the accord in its crib: the inevitable attempts on Capitol Hill to impose new economic sanctions on Tehran.
Expectations are high in Washington that John Kerry, the secretary of state, will announce a limited, short-term deal with Iran, following his unexpected arrival in Geneva on Friday to participate in negotiations.
Yet the White House was quick to say that it is resolved to “protecting the broader architecture of the sanctions program,” as deputy press secretary Josh Earnest put it on Friday.
Unless Kerry can persuade Tehran to freeze all its enrichment activity before an interim deal, nuclear experts say, bipartisan congressional opponents of Iran will rapidly push to expand the sanctions regime. Iran wants the sanctions removed, and may consider an expansion of them a sign of America’s bad faith in advance of the longer-term deal both sides say they want.
The Senate, filled with Iran hawks, has multiple opportunities to expand the sanctions regime as early as Monday. One is a package of new sanctions in the Senate banking committee that chairman Tim Johnson, a South Dakota Democrat, said Thursday he will pursue after “the Geneva meeting is over with.”
Johnson told Reuters that Senate majority leader Harry Reid, one of President Obama’s most important legislative allies, signaled to Johnson to proceed with marking up the new sanctions bill.
Also, beginning next week, the Senate is anticipated to debate the next fiscal year’s defense authorization bill, which Republican senators say could provide an opportunity to put in place new sanctions.
Tennessee’s Bob Corker, the top Republican on the foreign relations committee Kerry used to chair, told the Daily Beast he crafted an amendment “to freeze the administration in, and make it so they are unable to reduce the sanctions unless certain things occur.”
The Republican-controlled House already passed an expansion of sanctions in July that awaits Senate action.
Congressional distaste for an Iran deal is likely to be fueled by the outright fury to it voiced by Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, an influential figure on Capitol Hill. Obama telephoned Netanyahu on Friday to smooth things over.
"The president provided the prime minister with an update on negotiations in Geneva and underscored his strong commitment to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, which is the aim of the negotiations between the P5+1 and Iran," according to a White House description of the call. "The president and prime minister agreed to continue to stay in touch on this issue. "
The fight over new sanctions “is ongoing, and it’s probably going to get worse” for the administration, said Laicie Heeley of the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation.
US presidents have broad authority over sanctions, but not absolute authorities. Congress not only passes sanctions bills, it can craft them to restrict so-called waiver authority that allows presidents to pause the implementation of sanctions deemed to be against the national interest.
“It would be their worst nightmare if Congress were to pass something that completely took away all the president’s waiver authority – because then all of our sanctions are completely useless, and passing them doesn’t mean anything, because we passed them to get Iran to the negotiating table to get a deal,” Heeley said. “If we can’t do anything to take them away, then they’re worthless.”
To stave off criticism of the deal before it was reached, the White House even publicly flirted with adding new sanctions.
Should the interim deal break down or a follow-on deal prove impossible in the coming months, “the moderate sanctions relief we’re talking about here would be reversible,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said on Thursday, “and we would be in a situation where, acting with the international community, acting with Congress, we could reinstate all of the sanctions and consider ratcheting up sanctions to increase pressure.”
The fact that Carney discussed escalating punitive measures ahead of a deal that would, at the least, alleviate them, speaks to the depths of distrust in Washington at anything resembling a deal with Iran, short of up-front Iranian capitulation.
As Friday wore on, with foreign ministers shuttling to Geneva for the talks, conservative legislators and thinktanks lined up to denounce the deal before they knew what it contained.
The Republican chairman of the House armed services committee, Californian Buck McKeon, castigated it as an unmitigated disaster.
“Relieving sanctions without a guarantee that Iran will end its nuclear program is foolish,” McKeon said.
“For some reason, this administration has yet to meet a red line it won’t brush aside to accommodate our enemies. They must stop chasing the thrill of a deal at the expense of US national security, and the security of our allies.”
The Emergency Committee for Israel, an implacable administration foe, encouraged Congress on Friday to “take all appropriate measures to oppose [a deal] and ratchet up sanctions. And Congress should also make it clear that the United States will stand with our ally, Israel, if she judges it necessary to act to prevent the Iranian regime from acquiring nuclear weapons.”
But proponents of an accord with think the Obama administration holds a strong hand – in part thanks, ironically, to the multiplicity of Iran sanctions bills.
“It’s the clock, it’s the weight of multiple [legislative] vehicles but no agreement on the way forward, it’s the key leaders on the committees, and it’s the dynamic that will change in response to a discussion of something real” with Iran, said Joel Rubin of the Ploughshares Fund, a former State Department official and congressional aide.
“Members will think twice, and the administration’s outreach these last couple of weeks has been effective on the consequences of damaging a nuclear deal.”
But Mark Dubowitz, an Iran sanctions expert at the hawkish Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, said the administration was setting itself up for a multi-front fight, especially for a follow-on agreement: against Iran at the negotiating table; with Congress over the contours of the deal; and with Israel and Saudi Arabia, who are terrified at the prospect of US-Iranian rapprochement.
“What people are forgetting is that there’s not going to be a final agreement with Iran unless Congress is treated as an equal partner in this. Congress can block the final-deal terms, because the Iranians want fundamental sanctions relief, and the fundamental sanctions relief that they want is sitting in congressional legislation,” Dubowitz said.
“I think the administration has set itself up for a very, very difficult six months,” Dubowitz said.
November 8, 2013On Iran, Netanyahu Can Only Fume
By JODI RUDOREN
JERUSALEM — Incensed by the prospect of an interim deal that would ease some sanctions against Iran during negotiations over its nuclear program, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel is doing what he is best known for, and perhaps best at: He is speaking out, in strident tones, despite the inevitable discomfort for a high-profile guest from Washington.
In four strong statements over 24 hours on Thursday and Friday — to world Jewish leaders, to visiting members of Congress and before and after a meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry in Tel Aviv — Mr. Netanyahu condemned the agreement being negotiated in Geneva. He ratcheted up his criticism each time, finally calling the agreement “the deal of the century” for Iran and “a very dangerous and bad deal” for the international community.
The remarks highlighted the growing gulf and heightened tensions between the United States and Israel over the nuclear talks and other issues in the Middle East. But they also hinted at the limited tools left for Mr. Netanyahu, who is sidelined in the negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program, which he views as an existential threat to his country and has long made his primary focus.
As Washington and its Western allies increasingly show willingness to make some concessions to engage Iran in the negotiations, Mr. Netanyahu has few options beyond serving as the hawkish scold in hopes of applying pressure on Israel’s allies. “I don’t see any magic wand he can really produce at this moment,” said Dan Gillerman, a former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations. “This is a very difficult and trying time for the Israeli prime minister.”
Although Mr. Netanyahu’s declaration on Friday that Israel is not “obliged” by any agreement made in Geneva raised anew the specter of an Israeli military strike on Tehran, experts here say such an attack is all but impossible to imagine while negotiations proceed — and without American support.
Mr. Netanyahu could use Israel’s clout in Congress to push for new sanctions, or to foment discontent over President Obama’s foreign policy, but taking his case directly to Capitol Hill poisoned his relationship with the White House early on and could be too risky with the fate of Iran’s nuclear ambitions in the balance.
Perhaps the most potent possibility lies in the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, which Mr. Kerry engineered and came here this week in hopes of pushing forward amid swelling signs of crisis. After a clearly frustrated Mr. Kerry criticized Israel for continued construction in Jewish settlements in the West Bank, Mr. Netanyahu declared on Friday that “pressure has to be put where it belongs, that is, on the Palestinians who refuse to budge.” He made clear he was in no mood to compromise.
“The more he’s unhappy about Iran, the less likely he is to move on the Palestinians, because it’s one of the leverages he has,” said Itamar Rabinovich, a former Israeli ambassador to the United States. “There has always been some sort of potential linkage between the Iranian issue and the Palestinian issue,” Mr. Rabinovich said. “Sort of saying, ‘O.K., I’m not happy with what I hear about Geneva, and I definitely am not going to please you by giving you, the secretary, or you, the president, the deal on the Palestinians you so much want.’ ”
Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s executive committee, denounced Mr. Netanyahu’s statements on Iran as “arrogant,” “childish” and “an insult” to Mr. Kerry, and said they reflected a relentless focus on Israel’s security that has prevented progress in the peace talks.
“His temper tantrum response to an Iran agreement is just an extension of that mentality,” Ms. Ashrawi said. “I want to do what I want to do, I want to get away with everything, and I want to dictate to everyone, including the U.S., how they should behave regarding Israel’s security the way Israel exclusively defines it.”
Mr. Netanyahu contends that like a tiny hole in a tire, even a limited lifting of sanctions against Iran threatens to unravel the entire package. Most Israeli analysts say that this fear is sincere, but that Mr. Netanyahu also has a track record of using such hard-line stances to force the West’s hand on Iran. Some saw his statements on Friday as an overreaction to what Mr. Kerry and others have made clear they see as only a small, first diplomatic step.
“It seems like he thinks that this is the final agreement — it is not,” said Amos Yadlin, the director of the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv. “The real judgment of whether it’s a bad deal or an acceptable deal will be in the end of the negotiating period.”
Mr. Yadlin said the prime minister seemed to be “crying wolf too early,” adding, “You should keep the wolf for the final agreement.”
Efraim Halevy, a former head of the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad, agreed that “the endgame” was what mattered, but noted that “the more you enter stages, the less you can be certain that you will get what you need in the end.” The key question, Mr. Halevy said, is the “reversibility” of the provisions of an agreement that would lift some sanctions on Iran in exchange for a freeze of uranium enrichment.
“Once you begin to relieve sanctions, to reimpose them is not a light matter — getting the sanctions in place took a long time,” Mr. Halevy said. “Whereas reversing the enrichment doesn’t take time, you simply get the machines going again within hours.”
Disagreements about the details notwithstanding, Mr. Netanyahu’s response to the possible Iran deal, along with an interview that was broadcast here on Thursday in which Mr. Kerry seemed more sympathetic than usual to the Palestinian case, suggested that Washington and Jerusalem may be entering another era of disagreement and distrust. Despite repeated promises by the Obama administration to keep Israel in the loop on the Iran negotiations, Mr. Netanyahu told the American lawmakers Thursday — twice — that he was “absolutely stunned” to learn that a deal was in the works.
On Friday, a photo opportunity with Mr. Kerry and Mr. Netanyahu was canceled amid the friction. Later, Mr. Obama called Mr. Netanyahu and “underscored his strong commitment to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon,” according to a White House statement.
“There is a fundamental difference of understanding between this Israeli government and this U.S. administration, and it’s reflecting in the reality that’s emerging on a variety of tracks,” said Jonathan Spyer, a senior research fellow at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, Israel. “This Israeli government, even though it won’t say so openly, regards this administration as bungling across the Middle East.”
“The way Netanyahu figures he has to deal with that right now,” Mr. Spyer added, “is to state his case bluntly rather than adhere to another view which he regards as fundamentally flawed and dangerous.”