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update deskU.S.-Israel Relations

White House worried Jerusalem leaking info on Iran talks

U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan reportedly voiced this concern to his Israeli counterpart.

U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan at a press briefing in the White House, Jan. 4, 2023. Photo by Arie Leib Abrams/Flash90.
U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan at a press briefing in the White House, Jan. 4, 2023. Photo by Arie Leib Abrams/Flash90.

The White House is concerned that Israel is leaking information about indirect talks with Tehran over its nuclear program.

President Joe Biden’s National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan expressed this misgiving in a phone call with his Israeli counterpart Tzachi Hanegbi last week, Axios reported on Wednesday, citing three American and Israeli officials.

Reports indicate that the U.S. and Iran may be on the verge of an informal agreement aimed at limiting Tehran’s nuclear ambitions and de-escalating regional tensions, with “understandings” already reached.

Outgoing U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides, however, shot down those reports in an interview with Israel Hayom.

“There are no understandings. This is completely blown out of proportion. We’ve said this over and over again—there is no deal on the table. There is no ‘less-for-less’ deal. It doesn’t exist. I mean, would there be at some point, something that we can grab onto? Who knows? But there’s nothing. You’re not going to wake up tomorrow and read about it,” Nides said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week clarified his government’s position on what he described as a “mini-agreement,” following earlier reports that he said during a closed-door meeting that the Jewish state could “live with” the emerging deal.

“We have made it clear to our American friends time and again, and I will do so again today, that we oppose the agreements, first of all the original agreement, the JCPOA [2015 Iran nuclear accord], which will only pave Iran’s way to a bomb and line its pockets with hundreds of billions of dollars,” Netanyahu said.

“Our persistent opposition has contributed to the fact that the U.S. is not returning to this agreement. We have also told them that the most limited understandings, what are termed ‘mini-agreements,’ do not—in our view—serve the goal and we are opposed to them as well,” the prime minister added.

According to the White House readout of last week’s call with Hanegbi, Sullivan also touched upon the recent violence in Judea and Samaria, extending his “sincere sympathies” to the Israeli people following the Palestinian terrorist attack near Eli on June 20 that killed four civilians. Sullivan emphasized the administration’s “unwavering support for Israel’s security” and its right to defend its citizens against Palestinian terrorist organizations.

“Sullivan also expressed deep concern over the recent extremist settler attacks against Palestinian civilians and the destruction of their property in the West Bank. He reiterated the importance of holding accountable those responsible for such acts of violence,” the statement said.

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