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Malley won’t stop in Israel during Middle East tour coordinating Iran policy

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US correspondent based in New York

In this file photo taken on May 7, 2018 Rob Malley, former US negotiator during the Iran nuclear program negotiations and current CEO at the International Crisis Group in Washington, DC. (Brendan Smialowski / AFP)
In this file photo taken on May 7, 2018 Rob Malley, former US negotiator during the Iran nuclear program negotiations and current CEO at the International Crisis Group in Washington, DC. (Brendan Smialowski / AFP)

A senior State Department official tells The Times of Israel that while the Biden administration’s Special Envoy for Iran Rob Malley’s upcoming trip to the Middle East will not include a stop in Israel, he is in regular contact with officials in Jerusalem.

Malley announced earlier today that he will be departing for Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates in the coming days to coordinate policy with US allies vis-à-vis the Iran issue.

The decision not to stop in Israel is merely due to a limited timeframe and such a visit will take place soon, the senior official says.

Malley has yet to visit Israel since taking on the role of special envoy, but he has participated in meetings with visiting Israeli delegations in Washington both earlier this month and today when US Secretary of State Antony Blinken sits down with Foreign Minister Yair Lapid for a bilateral meeting.

Malley is one of the architects of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action that offers Iran international sanctions relief in exchange for curbs to its nuclear program. Israel opposed the agreement and lauded former president Donald Trump’s decision to vacate from it.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is now publicly urging the Biden administration not to return to the deal, though has taken a less aggressive stance against the JCPOA than was the case under former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

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