Top Israeli military officials say Trump’s Iran deal exit was a ‘mistake,’ bad for Israel, by Mitchell Plitnik

The Iran nuclear deal was far from perfect, but Iran observed it and allowed the world to monitor what was going on inside the country. Trump thought by withdrawing he’d get an agreement that was less imperfect. That, he didn’t get. Now even some high Israeli officials are saying withdrawal was a bad idea, and at the time the deal was signed, official Israel was vehemently against it. From Mitchell Plitnik at responsiblestatecraft.org:

As talks resume to return to the JCPOA, unlikely voices are emerging to support its revival.

The United States, its allies, and Iran have returned to negotiations this week in Vienna aimed at restoring the JCPOA. All parties are expressing pessimism regarding the current round of talks. President Joe Biden is feeling pressure from Congress and from Israel to find ways to “improve” the deal, while the new, more hardline Iranian leadership is holding firm to its demands that Washington lift all sanctions imposed since 2018 immediately and offer a guarantee that it will not renege on its commitment to the deal, as President Donald Trump did.

Both sides are pointing fingers at the other and it may seem like there is no viable path forward. But one is suddenly presenting itself to the United States from a most unlikely source: Israel.

Earlier this week, an interview in the Israeli press appeared with Danny Cintrinowicz, who headed the Iran branch of the Israeli Military Intelligence’s Research and Analysis Division from 2013 to 2016. This was the period during which the moderate Hassan Rouhani took over the Iranian presidency from the conservative Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and spearheaded Iran’s effort to engage the West.

Cintrinowicz called Israel’s policy on Iran a “failure,” explaining that “[Israel] pushed the US side to leave the agreement when there are no other options.”

Cintrinowicz speaks from years of studying Iranian politics and policymaking regarding its military and security affairs. His view of Iran is far more nuanced and informed than most of what we hear from Israeli officials — or American and European ones for that matter.

“Iran is not a monolith,” Cintrinowicz told The Times of Israel. “And I’m sorry, but they don’t wake up in the morning and think about how to destroy Israel. It doesn’t work like that in Iran… It’s a basic misunderstanding of the Iranian system.”

Cintrinowicz laid out the reason the current impasse is so tricky. “Everything started going haywire when Trump left the agreement. Initially, Rouhani tried not to violate the deal. He took only very limited steps. But when he became so weakened and understood that nothing would change, he decided to break every restriction that had been placed on the regime.”

Cintrinowicz was not alone in bemoaning Trump’s arbitrary and dangerous decision to abandon the JCPOA. Other Israeli leaders, and prominent pro-Israel Americans, also voiced their consternation.

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