Israel's Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said on Sunday that "Iran must start paying a price for its violations," as world powers took a weekend break in the new cycle of nuclear talks with Iran.
Speaking during the weekly government meeting, Bennett added that Israel must use the window of opportunity between the renewed round of talks "to tell our friends in the U.S.: Now is exactly the time to start using a different set of tools as Iran's enrichment races on."
Haaretz reported earlier on Sunday that Israeli officials have rebuked the U.S.' handling of the Iran nuclear talks, with one saying Washington was “confused” in their expectation that Tehran would not harden its position on returning to compliance with the terms of the agreement.
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Over the weekend, Israeli officials cautioned against a scenario in which the U.S. agrees to lift Iranian sanctions in exchange for an intermediate agreement (“less for less”), under which Iran would consent to only some demands, like stopping uranium enrichment or nuclear research and development.
Such an agreement would eliminate one of the international community’s most important tools against Iran’s nuclear program, Israeli officials said.
One official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Americans don’t deny their willingness to reach such a deal, but said that American officials were caught off guard by the Iranian delegate’s presentation of two position papers that included firm demands concerning the lifting of sanctions and Iran’s conditions for returning to the agreement.
Meanwhile, Israel's diplomatic efforts are set to intensify. Mossad chief David Barnea is scheduled to fly to Washington within a few days, where he will hold “very important” talks with administration officials to convince them not to sign an intermediate agreement with Iran. He will also seek to drum up international support for harsh sanctions that will force Iran to step back from its nuclear program.