On Sunday, in a historic first for both countries, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Neom, Saudi Arabia. This was the first publicly acknowledged meeting between a prime minister of the Israeli government and high-level officials of the government of Saudi Arabia. United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Israeli Mossad chief Yossi Cohen also attended the meeting, according to The Jerusalem Post.
#BREAKING: Israel PM Netanyahu and head of the Mossad flew yesterday to Saudi Arabia, and Met Pompeo and MBS in the city of Neom, according to Israeli officials
— Amichai Stein (@AmichaiStein1) November 23, 2020
The meeting is the latest development in the ongoing growth of Arab nations rejecting their previous hostility toward Israel and joining in the effort to counter Iran, which they see as the gravest threat to peace in the Middle East. Those developments were fostered by the Trump administration, which rejected the dangerous Iran nuclear deal embraced by the Obama administration and instead concentrated on bolstering relations between Israel and the surrounding Gulf states.
The astonishing rapidity of Arab nations such as the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Sudan all joining the Abraham Accords within three months in 2020 represented a historic shift in the Middle East, nurtured by President Trump.
It’s not surprising that Israel and Saudi Arabia would go public with the meeting between Netanyahu and the Saudi prince; they must be worried that a prospective Biden administration would coddle the despotic Iranian regime as the Obama administration did.
Former Vice President Joe Biden has clearly stated that he would make efforts to rejoin the Iran nuclear deal; he has called President Trump’s decision to leave the deal “reckless.” Biden published an op-ed in September that harshly criticized Trump, writing, “He recklessly tossed away a policy that was working to keep America safe and replaced it with one that has worsened the threat.” He disingenuously claimed, “There is a smart way to be tough on Iran, and there is Trump’s way. He ignored our closest allies and walked away — alone, without a plan — from a deal that put the world’s eyes and ears inside Iran’s nuclear program and was verifiably blocking Iran’s pathways to a nuclear weapon.”
In 2015, while Barack Obama was still in office, over 214 former generals and admirals signed an open letter to Congress warning that the Iran nuclear deal could bring war and was unverifiable. They wrote:
There is no credibility within JCPOA’s inspection process or the ability to snap back sanctions once lifted, should Iran violate the agreement. … The agreement as constructed does not “cut off every pathway” for Iran to acquire nuclear weapons. To the contrary, it actually provides Iran with a legitimate path by doing that simply by abiding by the deal. … The agreement is unverifiable.Under the terms of the JCPOA and a secret side deal (to which the United States is not privy), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IEAE) will be responsible for inspections under such severe limitations as to prevent them from reliably detecting Iranian cheating. … These inspections do not allow access to Iranian military facilities, the most likely location of their nuclear weapons development efforts.
In 2017, former U.N. ambassador John Bolton and former undersecretary of State for arms control and international security affairs Paula A. DeSutter, defending President Trump’s actions vis-à-vis Iran, wrote that the Iran nuclear deal was “inherently unverifiable,” noting:
In critical respects, President Obama negotiated the JCPOA to be inherently unverifiable. The vaguely written and internally contradictory text of the agreement, with language invariably favorable to Iranian interpretations that would subvert its ostensible intent, is the opposite of how arms agreements should be written. This is no surprise, because a verifiable nuclear agreement was not what Mr. Obama wanted. Instead, he sought a political agreement with Tehran that would neither require Senate approval nor be easily terminated by subsequent administrations. Given that objective, a tightly written, readily verifiable agreement with which Iran never had any intention of complying would have been an obstacle rather than an aid.