search

With Iran on agenda, security cabinet to convene for first time in 2 months

Ministers will play musical chairs to maintain balance between Likud and Blue and White members, disrupted by resignations amid political turmoil

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and Defense Minister Benny Gantz attend the swearing-in ceremony of Israel's Knesset (parliament) in Jerusalem, on April 6, 2021. (Alex Kolomoisky / POOL / AFP)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and Defense Minister Benny Gantz attend the swearing-in ceremony of Israel's Knesset (parliament) in Jerusalem, on April 6, 2021. (Alex Kolomoisky / POOL / AFP)

The top-level security cabinet was scheduled to meet Sunday evening for the first time in over two months as tensions escalate with Iran.

At the top of the agenda was expected to be the confrontation with Iran amid claims that Israel was behind an explosion last week that knocked out power to a major Iranian nuclear site, reportedly damaging a large portion of the uranium enrichment centrifuges inside.

Iran has blamed Israel for the incident at its Natanz nuclear facility and on Saturday published a picture of a man it said was a key suspect who has fled the country.

Since the explosion, Iran announced that it was raising enrichment levels to 60 percent, a short technical step from the purity needed to make nuclear weapons, and a significant violation of its 2015 nuclear pact with world power. At the same time, Iran is engaged in indirect talks with the US, mediated by Europe in Vienna, aimed at reviving the nuclear pact.

The Biden administration is working to coax Tehran back into the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which aimed to curb Iran’s nuclear program in return for sanctions relief.

Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev in Jerusalem, on April 12, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Before the security cabinet meeting can even start, ministers will be required to make some adjustments as to who will be permitted to participate, as an ongoing political deadlock has left the country with a transitional government and without a justice or science minister, both of whom resigned in the run-up to March elections.

Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz had taken over as acting justice minister, but his term came to an end earlier this month, as did that of Chili Tropper, also of Blue and White, who was acting science minister. With those two seats left vacant, Blue and White lost two ministers at the table, requiring the Likud party to drop two of its own ministers as well in order to keep the two parties’ unity government power-sharing agreement of having equal numbers of ministers in the cabinet intact.

As a result, Transportation Minister Miri Regev and Education Minister Yoav Gallant, both Likud members of the security cabinet, will instead take turns having observer status, according to Hebrew media reports. In addition, Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz, also of Likud, will be dropped to observer status. Blue and White’s Omer Yankelevich, the minister for Diaspora affairs, will reportedly join as an observer.

At the security cabinet meeting, ministers will also be updated on the planned probe by the International Criminal Court in The Hague of alleged Israeli and Palestinian war crimes in the conflict between them, the Kan public broadcaster reported.

read more:
comments
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed