Earlier today, Bloomberg News reported an alleged difference of opinion between Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and the current head of the Mossad, Tamir Pardo. It concerned the efficacy of a proposed Senate bill jointly sponsored by Senator Mark Kirk (R- IL) and Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ). The bill would increase sanctions on Iran in the event a diplomatic agreement has not been reached by the new deadline of June 30.
According to the report, Mossad officials advised a bipartisan group of senators who were visiting Israel to hold off passage of the bill, saying that new sanctions would hamper U.S. efforts to persuade the Iranians to abandon or permit international supervisions of their uranium enrichment efforts.
This, of course, neatly matches the appeal made by President Obama in his State of the Union speech that the Senate not pass any new sanctions and trust his negotiators to bring about the agreement.
The response from the Israeli government was almost immediate.
An unnamed “senior Israeli official” told Israeli Channel 2 News that “the fraudulent claims against the Mossad Head were raised by the Americans yesterday despite a message that had been transmitted to them on Tuesday by Intelligence Minister [Yuval] Steinitz.”
In an unusual official statement concerning the January 19 secret meeting which had been held at the request of the American senatorial delegation by Mr. Pardo, with the prime minister’s full approval, the Mossad said:
“The Head of Mossad did not say that he opposes additional sanctions on Iran.
“Mossad Head Tamir Pardo met on January 19, 2015, with a delegation of US senators. The meeting was held at the request of the senators and with the prime minister’s approval. At the meeting, the Head of Mossad stressed the extraordinary effectiveness of the sanctions that have been placed on Iran for several years in bringing Iran to the negotiating table.
“The Head of Mossad noted that in negotiating with Iran, a policy of ‘carrots and sticks’ must be adopted, and there are not enough ‘sticks’ nowadays.” Furthermore, said the agency, he “said specifically that the agreement that is being formed with Iran is bad and could lead to a regional arms race.”
Unnamed sources in Jerusalem told Army Radio today that the statement as issued was “revenge” by the Obama administration for Netanyahu’s acceptance of the invitation extended by John Boehner (R-OH) and Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to address a joint session of Congress without going through the executive branch. White House press secretary Josh Earnest had earlier expressed the administration’s annoyance at the invitation, and has also indicated that “as a matter of policy” Obama will not meet with Netanyahu when he comes to the U.S. in March to address Congress.