Veteran cabinet minister Hanegbi warns that a 180-degree change on Iran policy could result in ‘violent Israeli-Iranian confrontation.’
By Paul Shindman, World Israel News
Likud cabinet minister Tzachi Hanegbi warned Wednesday that a change in American policy on Iran by an administration under Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden could lead to war with Iran.
Hanegbi said that President Donald Trump’s decision to pull the U.S. out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and impose tougher economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic was working and producing results, but he anticipated a total about-face if Biden wins the election.
In an interview on Israel’s Channel 13, Hanegbi said he didn’t want to comment on a Biden or Trump victory, but was personally concerned about the foreign policy track a Biden White House would take with Iran and its nuclear program.
If Biden deviates from Trump’s policies of increased sanctions against Iran, “the result will be a violent Israeli-Iranian confrontation, because we will be forced to act,” Hanegbi said.
“I can say that for me personally, I am worried by the expected American policy under a Democratic administration with respect to the Iranians. About everything else I’m very calm,” Hanegbi said in an interview on Channel 13.
“There could be a metamorphosis here of a 180-degree change. The previous democratic administration signed on a deal that in my eyes – and the eyes of the prime minister and most of public in Israel – it truly wrong…and wrong for American interests as well, not just for us.”
Hanegbi has long been a close member of Netanyahu’s inner circle in the Likud Party and a veteran legislator who was first elected to the Knesset in 1988 and currently serves as Minister of Settlement Affairs.
Signed by the Obama administration and other world powers in 2015, Iran agreed to cut back its enrichment of uranium for 15 years, but would be free to pursue nuclear weapons when the treaty expires in 2030. Israel vehemently objected to the deal, citing Iran’s repeated lying to the UN’s nuclear watchdog and the continuous statements by Iranian leaders over the years that Iran’s goal is the “total annihilation of Israel.”
“Biden said openly for a long time that he would return to the [Iran] nuclear deal. I see that as something that will lead to a confrontation between Israel and Iran,” Hanegbi said, adding that he saw no break in the special relations between the U.S. and Israel.
“The bond between us and the Americans is really a covenant between nations, not governments,” Hanegbi said.
Questioned about the perennially moribund peace process with the Palestinians, the minister was not concerned about a Biden administration overly pressuring Israel on the issue.
“I’m not worried about Palestinian story, because in my opinion, since Obama and Clinton failed in their attempts to impose on Israel a Palestinian state, I don’t think that Joe Biden – who I assume as Obama’s deputy learned the lessons – will dedicate superfluous time to it.”