Israel was upbeat about President Donald Trump’s anticipated announcement on Friday of major steps against the international nuclear deal with Iran, but voiced doubt that the tougher tack by Washington could turn around Tehran.
While the White House’s distaste for the 2015 pact may be sweet to the ears of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his government is mindful of the limits of any unilateral U.S. action in the face of dissent from other big power signatories.
Some Israeli officials quietly question whether Washington has the will to follow through, noting what they deem insufficient U.S. efforts to stem the entrenchment in next-door Syria of Iran-allied forces helping Damascus in the civil war.
Trump was expected to say in a 1645 GMT speech that he will not re-certify the nuclear agreement in light of Iran’s ballistic missile projects and involvement in regional trouble-spots. That would give the U.S. Congress 60 days to decide whether to reimpose sanctions on Tehran that were suspended in return for it rolling back technologies with nuclear bomb-making potential.
Netanyahu spokesmen declined to comment on the pending speech. A veteran Israeli cabinet minister from Netanyahu’s Likud party sounded cheered by Trump’s resolve, but appeared to note the depth of partisan rifts around the U.S. administration.
“The outcome that could happen, and this is the only positive outcome we can see at this stage, is that Congress manages to come together around new, significant sanctions,” the minister, Tzachi Hanegbi, told Tel Aviv radio station 102 FM.