Chief Iran talks negotiator: Defending Israel ‘tougher’ without 2 states


ARLINGTON, Va. (JTA) — A new Israeli government that does not back a two-state solution will make the U.S. job of defending Israel “a lot tougher,” according to a top State Department official.

Wendy Sherman, the undersecretary of state leading Iran talks, on Monday addressed the biennial of the Reform movement’s Religious Action Center.

“We have always had Israel’s back in the international arena,” Sherman said, but noted caveats about a two-state solution expressed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during March elections.

“We will be watching very closely to see what happens after a government is formed on this issue,” she said. “If a new Israeli government is seen as stepping back from its commitment to a two-state solution — something all of you and vast majority American Jews support — that makes our job in the international community a lot tougher.”

Sherman also strongly defended the nuclear talks between Iran and major powers.

“We will have eyes into every part of Iran’s nuclear program from cradle to grave,” she said of a nuclear agreement with a June 30 deadline. “If we detect Iran is trying to break its commitments or violate the agreement, we will have every single option on the table.”

Sherman cast her work on the agreement, which has drawn sharp objections from Netanyahu and Republicans, as in line with her upbringing in Baltimore’s Reform Jewish community.

“Every time I hear President Obama talk, I’m always struck about how personally he feels about those issues,” she said, referring to issues of concern to Jews and Israel.

“This deep-seated feeling is what drives his unwavering commitment to Israel’s security. It’s also what drives this administration’s approach to the Iranian nuclear threat. We understand Israel is in a tough neighborhood. That’s why we’ve given Israel more security assistance than any other admin in history.”

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