A senior Obama official has arrived in Israel this week to discuss the Iran nuclear deal with top Israeli officials, the US Treasury Department announced.
Acting Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Adam Szubin landed in Israel Friday and is expected to return to the US on Monday. This is Szubin’s first visit to Israel since the nuclear deal was signed in July.
A Treasury spokesperson said Szubin will meet with Dore Gold, director-general of Israel’s Foreign Ministry, National Security Adviser Yossi Cohen and Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz, among other officials.
He will “emphasize the United States’ commitment to increasing cooperation with Israel to combat Iran’s support for terrorism and other destabilizing activity in the region,” the Treasury said.
“I plan to focus on the The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), but also on Treasury’s continued efforts to target Iran’s malign activities,” Szubin said, according to the New York Times. The acting under secretary added that he would discuss deepening sanctions against Hezbollah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards during his Israel visit.
“Intensifying those sanctions and ensuring that they bite ever deeper is a core part of my mission,” he said. “We plan to enforce them with all the toughness that people have come to expect from the US Treasury.”
On Friday, US President Barack Obama scheduled a live webcast to address the North American Jewish community about the Iran nuclear deal. US Vice President Joe Biden is set to meet with leaders of the American Jewish community on September 3 to to discuss the nuclear deal.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has spoken out against the deal with Iran, causing friction between his government and the White House. Obama has singled out Israel as the single largest obstacle standing in the way of his resolution passing congress.
Last week, at the Council of Foreign Relations in New York, US Secretary of State John Kerry warned that if the deal failed to pass Congress, Israel would be blamed, leaving it more isolated from its most powerful ally.
“I fear that what could happen is if Congress were to overturn [the deal], our friends in Israel could actually wind up being more isolated and more blamed,” he said. “And we would lose Europe and China and Russia with respect to whatever military action we might have to take because we will have turned our backs on a very legitimate program that allows us to put their program to the test over these next years.”
At the same time, he warned Israel in the strongest possible terms against striking Iran, either militarily or with a cyber attack. “That’d be an enormous mistake, a huge mistake with grave consequences for Israel and for the region, and I don’t think it’s necessary,” Kerry said in remarks during an interview on NBC.
An anonymous Israeli official responded to Kerry’s remarks to the New York Times, saying that Israel has every intention of continuing to oppose the deal with Iran.
“The U.S. Congress will make its decision based on American interests, which include consideration of U.S. allies. The regrettable attempt to intimidate Israel will not prevent us from voicing our concerns about this deal, which poses direct threats to Israel’s security.”