JERUSALEM (JTA) — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly tried to cancel a Mossad briefing for visiting U.S. senators because of the Israeli security agency’s warnings on an Iran sanctions bill.
Netanyahu removed the Jan. 19 briefing from the itinerary of six senators visiting Israel, led by Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Time magazine reported Saturday.
Corker reportedly threatened to abort the trip to Israel to protest the move, Time reported, citing unnamed sources it said were familiar with the incident. The briefing went forward after Israel’s ambassador to the U.S., Ron Dermer, became involved.
Mossad chief Tamir Pardo warned that the Kirk-Menendez bill, which would have imposed new sanctions on Iran if it did not agree by June 30 to a long-term deal to regulate its nuclear program, would be like “throwing a grenade” into the diplomatic process with Iran.
The apparent position by the Mossad is in conflict with the Israeli government’s stated position urging additional sanctions.
The senators at the briefing were Corker and fellow Republicans John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and John Barrasso of Wyoming, along with Democrats Tim Kaine of Virginia and Joe Donnelly of Indiana, and Angus King, an independent from Maine.
Corker later proposed a new bill that would impose new sanctions only if Iran walked away from a November 2013 agreement with the world powers in which Iran agreed to freeze its nuclear program and allow international inspections, as well as the removal of medium-enriched uranium, in exchange for no new economic sanctions.