Prime Minister Yair Lapid was surprised by Mossad chief David Barnea’s harsh warnings about an emerging Iran nuclear deal between the Islamic Republic and world powers, according to Friday reports.
In comments to reporters on Thursday, Barnea was quoted calling the nuclear deal being negotiated “a strategic disaster” for Israel and saying the United States “is rushing into an accord that is ultimately based on lies.”
The message was more strident and seen as more critical of the US position than other recent statements from Jerusalem.
Lapid had met with Barnea between the Mossad chief’s briefing to reporters and the publication of the remarks, catching Lapid off guard, Channel 12 news said.
Barnea had briefed reporters at 11 a.m. under the condition that his comments not be published until 8 p.m. Barnea and Lapid held a pre-scheduled meeting during that gap in time, which was announced by the prime minister’s office.
Lapid was aware of Barnea’s media briefing, but they had not coordinated the comments, and Barnea’s statements differed from talking points circulated by the prime minister’s office several days ago and from the message Lapid has been attempting to convey, the Channel 12 report said.
Shortly after Barnea’s comments were published, Lapid called the Mossad chief, telling him he had gone off script in his criticism of the US and asking for a clarification. It wasn’t clear if Lapid had directly reprimanded Barnea, reports said.
Barnea said Thursday that the emerging Iran deal was “very bad for Israel” and based on lies, citing Iran’s claim that its nuclear activities are peaceful in nature.
According to Barnea, the deal, due to its sunset clauses, “gives Iran license to amass the required nuclear material for a bomb” in a few years, and will also provide Tehran billions of dollars in currently frozen money, increasing the danger Iran poses throughout the region via its proxies.
Lapid’s recent statements on the deal have been less grating. He toldreporters on Thursday that Israel’s efforts to influence the outcome of negotiations had borne fruit, but that the accord was still “a bad deal” for Israel.
The prime minister pointed both to the trip to Washington this week by national security adviser Eyal Hulata for “very intensive discussions” on the issue and to Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s visit to the US, which began on Thursday.