Amid Thaw in U.S.-Iran Relations

Israel Was Informed of Obama-Rohani Call in Advance, Briefed After

Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror arrives in Washington ahead of meeting between Netanyahu and Obama; senior U.S. official: Israeli government has every right to be skeptical of Iranian government.

NEW YORK - White House National Security Advisor Susan Rice informed her Israeli counterpart Yaakov Amidror Friday of the planned telephone conversation U.S. President Barack Obama was to hold with Iranian President Hassan Rohani and then informed him of its contents after it had taken place.

A senior Israeli official said that Amidror traveled to Washington Friday morning, in order to lay the groundwork for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s White House meeting with Obama Monday. Amidror met with Rice and other American officials, and discussed the U.S.-Iranian negotiations.

During these talks, Amidror was also briefed on the meeting Secretary of State John Kerry held with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in New York on Thursday. On Friday evening, Amidror was informed of the possibility that Rohani would speak with Obama by phone, and was informed that the call had taken place before Obama reported on it to the public at a White House press conference.

“We were able to notify the Israeli government of the call,” said a senior American official. “I don’t want to get into the exact specific channel. We’ve already been having discussions with Israel anyway, given Prime Minister Netanyahu’s upcoming visit. So we’ve had steady with communications and were able to update them on this development.”

The senior American official pointed out that the U.S. will continue to update Israel and its other allies in the Persian Gulf and the European Union regarding its contacts with Iran. “The Israeli government has every right to be skeptical of the Iranian government, given the statements that have come out of Iran the past - extraordinarily inflammatory statements about Israel and threats towards Israel’s existence,” said the official.

The official added that the U.S. government believes that a diplomatic solution that would prevent Iran from achieving nuclear weapons would serve Israeli security interest as well. “We’ve made clear that words need to be followed by actions, so when we consider things like potential sanctions relief, we’re going to need to see a meaningful agreement and meaningful actions by the Iranian government before the pressure that's in place can be relieved,” said the official.