Prime Minister Yair Lapid was surprised by Mossad chief David Barnia’s stern warnings about the emerging Iran nuclear deal between the Islamic Republic and world powers, according to reports on Friday.

In comments to reporters Thursday, Barnia called the nuclear deal “a strategic disaster” for Israel and cited the United States as “finally rushing into a deal based on lies.”

The message was harsher and seen as more critical of the US position than other recent statements from Jerusalem.

Channel 12 news reported that Lapid met with Bernia and captured Lapid during the release of the Mossad chief’s briefing and comments to reporters.

Bernia and Lapid held a pre-scheduled meeting at that time, announced by the Prime Minister’s Office, on the condition that Bernia told reporters at 11 a.m. that his comments would not be published until 8 p.m.

Lapid was aware of Barnia’s media briefings, but did not coordinate the comments, and Barnia’s statements differed from the talking points broadcast by the Prime Minister’s Office several days earlier and the message Lapid was trying to convey, the Channel 12 report said.

Shortly after Bernia’s comments were published, Lapid called the head of the Mossad to tell him he had gone off script in his criticism of the US and asked for an explanation. It was not clear whether Lapid had reprimanded Bernia directly, the report said.

It also appeared that one or more Hebrew media outlets had misquoted Barnia as directly criticizing the Biden administration’s handling of the Iran issue, when he had not, Channel 12 also reported.

Barnia said Thursday that the emerging Iran deal was “very bad for Israel” and based on lies, citing Iran’s claims that its nuclear activities are peaceful.

Barnia added that a deal appeared inevitable “given the needs of the United States and Iran.” Washington is trying to prevent Tehran from acquiring the ability to build a nuclear bomb, while the Islamic Republic seeks relief from crippling economic and financial sanctions.

According to Barnia, the deal, due to its sunset clauses, “licenses Iran to stockpile the nuclear material it needs for a bomb within a few years” and would also provide Tehran with billions of dollars in currently frozen funds, increasing the threat to Iran. throughout the region through its proxy.

Lapid’s recent statements on the deal are less spot on. He told reporters on Thursday that Israel’s efforts to influence the outcome of the negotiations had paid off, but that the deal was still a “bad deal” for Israel.

The prime minister pointed to National Security Adviser Eyal Hulata’s visit to Washington this week for “very intensive discussions” on the issue and Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s visit to the US, which began on Thursday.

Defense Secretary Benny Gantz meets US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan in Washington DC on August 26, 2022. (Yossi Mai/Ministry of Defence)

Gantz told US President Joe Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan on Friday that Israel “needs” the US to have a credible military option against Iran, a senior Israeli official told reporters on Friday.

Israel has received “good indications” that the US is planning an offensive against Iran, according to a defense official. He did not elaborate, but said it would make Tehran more flexible during potential negotiations.

The official said the meeting between Gantz and Sullivan in Washington was “intimate” and “positive”. He said Gantz emphasized Israel’s objections to a potential deal.

Channel 12 also reported Friday that Mossad has told Lapid that a renewed Iran deal will be signed in the coming days or weeks. The Israel Defense Forces and Mossad are preparing a series of operations against Iran, including its nuclear program, terrorist activities and arms trafficking.

On Wednesday, Iran announced that it had received a US response to its proposal to return to the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, which was drawn up by then-US President Donald Trump in 2018.

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby declined to characterize the administration’s response to the latest proposal, but noted that “we are closer now than we were a few weeks ago because Iran has decided to make some concessions.”

Israel has long opposed the deal, arguing that Iran is seeking to build a nuclear bomb and has published intelligence revealing the Iranian weapons program. Iran has denied any nefarious intentions and claims its program is designed for peaceful purposes, although it has recently been enriching uranium that international leaders say is not for civilian use.

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