A sensitive document was sent in recent weeks to most of the senior offices in Israel, other than that of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. His successor, Naftali Bennett, has already read it.

It’s signed by three worried citizens: Maj. Gen. (res.) Aharon Ze’evi-Farkash, a former director of Military Intelligence; Gideon Frank, a former head of the Atomic Energy Commission; and Ariel Levite, one of Israel’s leading nuclear experts. The document’s authors were invited to present it at several meetings with the heads of the relevant organizations.

The subject is, of course, the Iranian nuclear project, with a view to the new agreement taking shape between Iran and the United States. This week, another round of talks between Tehran and the powers was held in Vienna. The Biden administration wanted to sign the agreement, from which Donald Trump withdrew in 2018, before the presidential election in Iran.

But that event is now taking place as scheduled, Friday June 18, without Biden’s hope being fulfilled. Netanyahu barred the defense chiefs from discussing the details of the agreement, which he rejects out of hand, with their American counterparts. A joint meeting in Washington at the end of April was held under that stricture – and it’s not surprising that the IDF Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, chose to absent himself from it at the last minute.

Ze’ev-Farkash, Frank and Levite believe that a narrow time frame remains for Israel to influence the agreement, and they believe that the United States, Britain, Germany and France, which are taking part in the talks with Iran, want to hear Israel’s opinion.

If that opinion isn’t given, the Americans and Europeans will be able to claim that Israel received a chance to wield influence but chose not to, so it has no right to complain. Both Joe Biden, following his meeting with Vladimir Putin, and the leaders of the other G-7 industrialized powers have stated that Iran has to be prevented from obtaining nuclear weapons.

According to Ze’evi-Farkash, Frank and Levite, the emerging agreement is worse than its predecessor, which was signed in 2015. It reflects the collapse of the Netanyahu policy that encouraged Trump to withdraw from the original deal.

The pressure of the economic sanctions imposed by the Trump administration didn’t break the Iranians, and in the past two years they started to violate the agreement (without withdrawing from it) and progress toward a nuclear bomb.

The three experts write: “Reliable, extremely worrisome information has reached us about the status of the negotiations between the powers and Iran. The negotiations stand at a very advanced stage. It emerges that in their eagerness to remove the issue from the agenda, the Americans are now willing to suffice with a ‘reduced’ arrangement in which most of the sanctions that the Trump administration has imposed on Iran since 2018 will be lifted. In exchange, Iran will retreat from only some of the steps it has taken since 2019 to advance its nuclear project.”

The three warn that the United States is now willing to make do with only partial restrictions on the advanced enrichment capability (five times as fast as its predecessor) that Iran has been exercising in recent years, and to forgo some of the supervision clauses over the Iranians’ research and development efforts. They say Washington is also willing to show flexibility on the study of the history of the nuclear program by the International Atomic Energy Agency, which requires access to facilities and full explanations to the agency’s inspectors.

According to the three experts, “The United States intends to rebuff criticism of the reduced agreement with the promise that all these additional issues and others will be dealt with in a future improved, long-term agreement. However, Iran is steadfast in its opposition to negotiate such an accord, and in any event the prospect that it will be achieved in the foreseeable future appears very poor.”

Ze’evi-Farkash, Frank and Levite warn that a diminished agreement will have serious implications for Israel. “Iran will step forward legitimately as a nuclear-threshold state possessing know-how, experience, advanced centrifuges and a production infrastructure of enriched uranium that will enable it to achieve confidently, within just months of deciding, fissionable material for a first weapon and for a number of weapons shortly thereafter.”

They maintain that the 2015 agreement saw to “a warning time of about a year for Iran to arrive at sufficient fissionable material to manufacture one nuclear bomb. According to the emerging agreement, and in the absence of supervisory and enforcement arrangements on the activity of the weapons group, Iran will be able to advance secretly and shorten significantly the time required to obtain a nuclear arsenal.

“The warning time for a renewal of an Iranian effort to achieve the weapon will be abbreviated and will, accordingly, limit the available options for thwarting it. Iran will retain an extensive underground enrichment infrastructure, which it has actually extended recently, that will hamper activity to thwart it.

“A return to the contours of the previous agreement will also obligate the United States to go back to refraining from intervening against the Iranian nuclear program, and this could have implications for Israel’s freedom of action. A reduced arrangement, in which most of the sanctions on Iran will be lifted, will expand the resources available to that country for taking action in spheres disturbing to us and also create a feeling of immunity.

“We have no doubt that the original nuclear agreement of 2015 contained weaknesses and limitations that made it difficult for Israel to accept. Still, it achieved for Israel a number of years of relative quiet in the nuclear arena without being compelled to act independently in that sphere on a broad scale. Since the United States withdrew from the agreement, Iran is striding confidently toward a nuclear capability far above what it had until 2015. The reduced agreement now on the way will not limit [Iran] significantly but will limit all ability for intervention.”

The fact that Netanyahu refused to try to influence the American position ahead of the tectonic shift about to occur with Washington’s return to an agreement reflects his mindset during his last months in office. As Haaretz’s Yossi Verter wrote Thursday, Netanyahu is intentionally leaving Bennett scorched earth. Not only did Netanyahu refuse to take part in a transition-of-power ceremony and limited the handover meeting with Bennett to half an hour, he’s heaping difficulties on a proper transition by not sharing with his successor secret agreements he reached with foreign leaders.

It’s a typical Netanyahu move: I am the state, so I ran it alone, assigning only limited importance to the officials under me. And because my absence from power will only be temporary, there’s no point helping my successor in any way. That’s why Netanyahu’s insistence on remaining in the Balfour Street residence is far more meaningful than the jokes about the family’s famous miserliness. Netanyahu is holding onto a symbol of power and is thus subverting the government.

Bennett and his coalition partner, Yair Lapid, need to set a date in the near future for the evacuation of the residence. Israel doesn’t have two prime ministers, outgoing and incoming. The weird and constrained institution of alternate prime minister is enough.