In Israel and the Gulf, Reaction to U.S. Push for Iran Talks Is Muted but Wary

In Israel and the Gulf, Reaction to U.S. Push for Iran Talks Is Muted but Wary

Saudi and Emirati officials, for their part, were silent on Friday. Watching the Biden administration’s outreach to Tehran with resignation, the two Gulf States — which were outraged at being excluded from the last negotiations — can only hope that the United States will keep its promises to consider Gulf interests in the talks, analysts said.

“We just have to trust the new administration,” said Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, an Emirati political scientist. “We don’t have any option. They really are determined to reach out to Iran, so there’s no way that anybody could stop them.”

But he acknowledged there could be something to gain, saying, “If the end result is less confrontation with Iran, a less aggressive Iran, a less expansionist Iran, it’s a dream of a sort.”

The Israeli government’s reticence reflects a less combative approach to the Biden administration’s policymaking than with President Barack Obama’s, at least initially, said Amos Yadlin, a former head of Israeli military intelligence.

“Practically, they will not confront the Biden administration directly,” he said. “They will wait a little bit to see whether the Iranians are reacting and how the negotiations develop.”

But behind the scenes, Israel is already lobbying the United States for an agreement that is much tougher on Iran. The Mossad chief, Yossi Cohen, and a team of experts will soon travel to Washington to brief senior American officials about what they see as the threats still posed by Iran, hoping to persuade the United States to hold out for harsher restrictions on Iran in any deal, two senior Israeli officials said.

Israeli intelligence suggests that Iran has blatantly violated the terms of the original nuclear deal and is still taking steps to develop a nuclear warhead, the officials said, claims that Iran denies.

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