The US and Israel are continuing to work on defining “red lines” for Iran’s nuclear program, even if they are not publicly notifying Tehran or the world, deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said Thursday.
Speaking to Israel Radio from the UN General Assembly in New York, Ayalon said Jerusalem’s and Washington’s positions regarding Iran are drawing closer together, despite a recent public spat between the sides over the US’s refusal to set an ultimatum on Iran in public.
Ayalon added that though US President Barack Obama did not lay down any red lines in his Wednesday speech to the UN General Assembly, the fact that he did warn against allowing Iran to obtain nuclear weapons is important. He added that Israel and US were still close allies.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was expected to lay out his own red lines on Iran’s nuclear program, beyond which military action will be taken to stop it, in his speech at the UN on Thursday evening (Israel time). Netanyahu has made repeated calls for the US, which believes there is still time for diplomacy and sanctions to work before a military strike becomes necessary, to make clear what the threshold for action would be.
A new report by the foreign ministry found that recent international sanctions are hitting Iran hard, undercutting Netanyahu’s key claim.
The Israeli foreign ministry report found Iran’s oil exports declined 50 percent in the past year, while food and electricity prices have skyrocketed.
An Israeli official confirmed the report, leaked Thursday inHaaretz. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss internal government documents.
Israel and the U.S. believe Iran seeks a nuclear weapon and threatens Israel’s existence, though they disagree on the timetable for taking action.
The difference in opinion led to a public war of words between the sides, which have been working to patch up ties even as Netanyahu continues to push for US backing on stopping Iran.
MK Roni Bar-on (Kadima), who heads the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, said working behind the scenes with the Americans was a better strategy then trying to lobby them in public forums, Israel Radio reported. He added that Israel is best not seen giving the impression that it is meddling in upcoming US elections.