Netanyahu bemoans lack of response to Iranian aggression

Haim Zach (GPO)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared to break with President Donald Trump on Iran on Thursday. 

Details: In a speech at a graduation ceremony for IDF officers, the Israeli leader suggested that “Iran’s threshold of daring in the region is rising and it grows even more in the absence of a response.” Netanyahu vowed that Israel is “prepared for the threats and will not hesitate to strike harshly at anyone who tries to attack us.”

The big picture: ThoughNetanyahu did not mention Trump by name, his remarks were seen as the first public rebuke of the administration’s reluctance to respond to Iranian aggression. 

Former Ambassador Dennis Ross tells Jewish Insider that Netanyahu is “trying to deter Iran, understanding that there is no U.S. umbrella now.” The Los Angeles Times posited Thursday that “The Trump-Netanyahu bromance appears over.”

2020 echo: Biden also lashed out at Trump over Iran on Thursday, saying that the president “pulled us out of the successful Iran nuclear deal, promising he’d get a better one. He hasn’t. And now, Iran has taken its nuclear program out of the deep-freeze and ramped up its aggressive acts across the region — and Trump has no strategy to deal with these predictable responses.” 

Report: Israeli Channel 13’s Barak Ravid reported on Thursday that Netanyahu recently told cabinet ministers that he believes Trump won’t take any military action against Iranian targets in the coming year before the U.S. presidential election. 

Losing trust: Danielle Pletka, senior vice president of foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), tells JI that Netanyahu is “right to recognize that Israel’s defense is up to Israel alone.” She added that every “single nation or group in the Middle East” is reeling from Trump’s betrayal of the Kurds. “Donald Trump has proven repeatedly that he is unwilling to act.”

Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer acknowledged that the uncertainty over Trump’s Middle East policy worries Israel and emboldens Iran, but argued that there’s nothing new in Netanyahu’s “latest war of words.” The “rhetorical threats and counter-threats have been part of Netanyahu’s playbook for more than a decade,” Kurtzer said. 

New sanctions, old waivers: Secretary Pompeo announced on Thursday the imposition of new sanctions on Iran’s construction sector, while extending waivers on foreign companies working with Iran’s civilian nuclear program. “This decision will help preserve oversight of Iran’s civil nuclear program, reduce proliferation risks, constrain Iran’s ability to shorten its ‘breakout time’ to a nuclear weapon, and prevent the regime from reconstituting sites for proliferation-sensitive purposes,” Morgan Ortagus, the State Department’s spokeswoman, said in a statement. 

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