Former Israeli military chief praises Iran nuclear deal


WASHINGTON (JTA) – Israel’s most recent military chief of staff called the Iran nuclear deal an “achievement.”

“I do agree a better deal could have been reached,” one that more extensively restricted uranium enrichment, Benny Gantz said Friday of the sanctions relief for nuclear restrictions deal reached in July between Iran and six major powers.

“But I see the half-full part of the glass,” he said. “I see the achievement of keeping the Iranians, 10-15 years into the future, postponing their having a nuclear capability at the right price.”

Gantz, a retired lieutenant general whose five years as military chief of staff ended in February, spoke at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a think tank with close ties to the U.S. and Israeli governments.

Gantz is the latest – and perhaps most significant – retired Israeli security official who has suggested the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has overstated the dangers of the deal.

“I am not worried, as far as Israel’s security situation,” he said. “We know how to take care of ourselves.”

The ex-chief of staff hinted that relations with the United States, frazzled this year by open hostility between the Obama and Netanyahu administrations, needed repair. The U.S. commitment to maintaining Israeli’s qualitative military edge in the region is “unheard of, it needs to be appreciated.”

Gantz, who recently joined an Israeli technology start-up, flatly said he had no political ambitions.

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