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November 25, 2013

A battered Israel resumes campaign against Iran

(Continued)

After failing at that task, Israeli officials are vowing to resume their campaign.

While Netanyahu has reiterated his veiled threats to attack Iran if necessary, military action seems to be out of the question while talks proceed.

Officials say Israel will use a combination of discreet diplomacy and blunt public comments to press their case. Among Israel’s demands are a halt to all uranium enrichment and the destruction of a plutonium-producing reactor that is under construction.

Steinitz said he believed compromise was still possible. He suggested that if Iran is intent merely on producing electricity, as it often says, it could buy nuclear fuel rods from abroad instead of enriching its own.

“Although we are extremely disappointed from this interim agreement, we believe a different agreement, more comprehensive, should be achieved, an agreement which at least forces Iran to begin to roll back its military nuclear program, and not just to freeze its facilities, but to begin to dismantle at least part of its nuclear facilities,” said Steinitz, adding that Israel would share intelligence with its allies as the talks proceed.

Concerns over Iran have helped forge an unlikely alliance between Israel and Western-allied Gulf countries led by Saudi Arabia, who are also unnerved by Iran’s growing regional influence. But since Sunday’s deal was announced, that alliance is showing signs of unraveling.

On Monday, Saudi Arabia cautiously welcomed the deal, and in a subtle gesture at Israel, expressed hope that it could lead to a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction. Israel is widely believed to possess its own nuclear arsenal, though it does not acknowledge having one.

Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates also have welcomed the nuclear deal.

Israeli newspapers were filled with commentaries dissecting Netanyahu’s failure to prevent the deal and said he would have no time to sit idly.

“Netanyahu has his work cut out for him. Let him get up from the floor; this is no time for empty threats and self-pity,” wrote Nachum Barnea, a columnist for Yediot Ahronot.

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