National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, President Biden’s top national security official, will host his Israeli counterpart Eyal Hulata in Washington on Tuesday for talks with the Iranian nuclear program tensions between Israelis and Palestinians expected to be at the forefront of discussions, The Times of Israel reports.
Sullivan and Hulata’s meeting is part of the so called US-Israel Strategic Consultative Group (SRG), an interagency bilateral forum established in March for discussing Iran and other regional security issues. The SRG includes representatives from the American and the Israeli military, diplomatic and intelligence communities.
Tuesday’s meeting, chaired by Sullivan and Hulata, will be the first time it will be held in person since the forum has met several times online in recent months, and will build off the President Biden and Israeli PM Naftali Bennett’s meeting in the White House in late August.
President Biden remains committed to diplomacy with Iran and believes that bringing the country back to the JCPOA, the Obama-era nuclear deal that former President Trump withdrew the US from in 2018, as the only way to prevent Tehran from attaining a nuclear weapon.
Yet, US officials will tell their Israeli counterparts that the US would be prepared if necessary to pursue “other avenues” to convince Tehran not to acquire nuclear weapon, signalling an openness to using military force.
Though Israel opposes the revival of the JCPOA, Bennett promised Biden he would not publicly campaign against the deal like his predecessor Benjamin Netanyahu did.
Sources pointed ahead of the meeting that Israel wants the United States to levy significant and painful sanctions on Iran a backup plan to convince it to abandon their military goals and in case Tehran does not agree to return to talks on a more substantial, longer and stronger nuclear deal in the coming years.
On top of the SRG meeting, a separate session is planned for Sullivan and Hulata to discuss other US-Israel bilateral relationship’s issues including US security assistance to Israel as well as strengthening and expansion of the Abraham Accords.
They’ll discuss supplemental $1 billion appropriations funding package for Israel’s Iron Dome Missile Defense System Biden administration supported in Congress, but its passing was blocked by the GOP senator Rand Paul.
The goal of discussions on the current state of relations between Israel and the Palestinians will focus on ensuring calm in Gaza and the importance of preventing potential flashpoints in the West Bank and Gaza and improving the lives of Palestinians.