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Israel will 'protect itself' in the face of Iranian threats – even if it must do so alone

After Vienna talks last week, Israeli leaders step up tough talk on nuclear Iran

President Isaac Herzog (R) with U.S. Ambassador to Israel Thomas Nides in Jerusalem, Dec. 5, 2021 (Photo:Kobi Gideon/GPO)

During a meeting with U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides on Sunday, Israeli President Isaac Herzog emphasized that the Jewish state would “protect itself” even if it would have to face the Iranian nuclear threat alone.

Echoing the warnings of multiple Israeli officials, Herzog warned that the Jewish state would do whatever it takes to neutralize the Iranian nuclear threat if international diplomatic efforts fail. 

“In the case of a failure to achieve such a solution, Israel is keeping all options on the table and it must be said that if the international community does not take a vigorous stance on this issue – Israel will do so,” Herzog said. “Israel will protect itself.”

Speaking alongside Nides, Herzog said Jerusalem would welcome a diplomatic solution if it neutralizes the Iranian nuclear threat. 

“We are closely following the international community’s recent negotiations with Iran. Israel will welcome a comprehensive, diplomatic solution which permanently solves the Iranian nuclear threat,” Herzog said. 

Nides said Washington would work closely with Israel and other allies in the Middle East to ensure that Tehran “never develops a nuclear weapon.”

While the Israeli presidential office is primarily a ceremonial function largely void of political power, Herzog who was elected as Israel’s 11th president in June, has chosen an activist approach to the position in the international arena. Last week, Herzog spoke for the first time on the phone with Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan (MBZ), the de facto ruler of the United Arab Emirates, which made peace with Israel in September 2020. 

In a meeting with the new U.S. ambassador on Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett also stressed the Jewish state’s commitment to defending freedom, just as the Maccabees fought for freedom more than 2,000 years ago. 

“Hanukkah is a symbol of light, and how light can prevail upon darkness. And right over here, about 2,100 years ago, the Maccabees were fighting a much bigger enemy, but we prevailed. We prevailed because we fought for good, we fought for freedom,” Bennett declared, with a veiled warning to the Iranian regime. 

While world powers are trying to negotiate a nuclear deal with Iran in Vienna, Mossad chief David Barnea was scheduled to travel to the United States on Sunday for meetings with senior Biden administration officials. 

Washington has signaled that it prefers a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear crisis, but has increasingly voiced frustration that Tehran does not seem to be serious about reaching an agreement on its illegal nuclear weapons program. 

According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Barnea’s current mission in Washington is to convince the Biden administration to get complete Iranian compliance with the agreement. If full compliance cannot be achieved, Barnea will likely urge the United States to muster international support to impose tough sanctions on the Iranian regime. 

Barnea, who became the head of Mossad in June, has been unusually outspoken about the Iranian threat. During a recent award ceremony for 12 distinguished Mossad operatives, Barnea said Iran would never have nuclear weapons “not in the coming years, not ever.”

“This is my personal commitment: This is the Mossad’s commitment,” Barnea stated. 

“Our eyes are open, we are alert, and together with our colleagues in the defense establishment, we will do whatever it takes to keep that threat away from the State of Israel and to thwart it in every way,” he vowed. 

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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