Israel Disappointed With British Policy on Iran Arms Ban, FM Ashkenazi Tells U.K.'s Raab

European signatories of 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran have already rejected American legal arguments for reimposing 'snapback' sanctions

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Israel's Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi and his British counterpart Dominic Raab arrive to hold a joint news conference in Jerusalem, August 25, 2020.
Israel's Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi and his British counterpart Dominic Raab arrive to hold a joint news conference in Jerusalem, August 25, 2020. Credit: POOL/ REUTERS

Israel's Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi met his British counterpart Dominic Raab in Jerusalem on Tuesday, expressing disappointment at the United Kingdom's position on Iran in the diplomatic arena.

The two discussed the U.K.'s vote against a U.S. resolution in the United Nations to extend the arms embargo on Iran, and likely opposition to the reinstating of sanctions as part of the snapback provision of the 2015 nuclear agreement.  

"We were disappointed to see the vote of E3 states [Britain, Germany and France] in the extension of the arms embargo on Iran in the Security Council. The international effort to stop Iranian aggression should be expressed in actions and not just in words. I call on all states to join the United States in its demand to reimpose sanctions on Iran," said Ashkenazi, referring to U.S. efforts to invoke a so-called snapback provision, which permits signatories of the nuclear agreement to reinstate sanctions via a formal complaint that Iran has violated its terms. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also echoed Ashkenazi's position to Raad in a meeting.

Out of the E3 states which voted against an extension of the arms embargo on Iran, the U.K. is considered the least adamant about its refusal to reimpose sanctions, and so Israel hopes to bring it closer to its position. However, officials believe London is unlikely to change its mind and support the snapback. The three states have already announced that they reject the U.S.'s legal argument for reinstating sanctions on Iran.

Ashkenazi and Raab also discussed Israel's agreement with the United Arab Emirates, amid British concerns that the deal makes prospects of diplomatic negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians even less likely.

Raab also met with Netanyahu, who told him that he expects Britain to change its policy towards Iran, and that it must support American sanctions against it to prevent the Islamic Republic from developing nuclear weapons. "Look at Iran aggression so far, without nuclear weapons. What a great danger it would to the whole world if it had nuclear weapons," said Netanyahu.  

Raab later met with Defense Minister Benny Gantz, who called for the renewal of security coordination between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and the resumption of negotiations with Ramallah, "Lest they get left behind."

Gantz also added that "A way must be found to reinstate the arms embargo against Iran."

Raab will next meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, followed by an official visit to Palestinian Authority headquarters in Ramallah.  

He also met with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday, who is spearheading American diplomatic policy against Iran. On Tuesday, Pompeo left Israel for Sudan – where he will attempt to convince the country leader's to formally normalize relations with Israel.

Experts estimate that Sudan will attempt to negotiate its removal from the U.S. sanctions list in exchange for official ties with Israel.

Meanwhile on Tuesday, Iran's top nuclear official Ali Akbar Salehi was quoted saying that talks with the UN nuclear watchdog's chief were constructive, after meeting Rafael Grossi who travelled to Iran to seek access for inspectors to two suspected former atomic sites.

"A new chapter of cooperation between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency will start," said Salehi.