Dempsey discourages Israel strike against Iran, Shapiro and Netanyahu Quarrel

On Thursday the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, told reporters in London that an Israeli attack on Iran would “clearly delay but probably not destroy Iran’s nuclear programme” adding that “I don’t want to be complicit if they choose to do it.”

Similar discouraging statements that the top defense official has made about militarily striking Iran may have contributed to a recent reported row between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the US’s ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro.

According to a Yedioth Ahronoth article translated by Al-Monitor, earlier this week the ambassador “had his fill” with Netanyahu’s public allegations that the US was not adequately defending Israel and called the Prime Minister out in front of Republican Congressman Mike Rogers:

In effect, the ambassador accused Netanyahu of twisting Obama’s position. He quoted the president, who had pledged not to allow Iran to become nuclearized, having stated that all means, including a military option, were on the table. Basically, Ambassador Shapiro told Netanyahu to stop talking nonsense.

Diplomatic officials privy to the incident said that “sparks and lightning” flooded the room, noting that the altercation became increasingly harsher. Netanyahu leveled accusations and Shapiro replied. The two went back and forth, while the dumbfounded Rogers watched from the sideline. The meeting eventually ended on with a harsh atmosphere in the room.

Laura Rozen reports that an anonymous source called the “suggestion of a raised-voice argument an exaggeration” but noticeably, nothing else was disputed.

Meanwhile, a TIME exclusive alleges that the US’s decision to scale-back a military exercise with Israel affects Israel’s capacity to strike Iran:

Seven months ago, Israel and the United States postponed a massive joint military exercise that was originally set to go forward just as concerns were brimming that Israel would launch a strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. The exercise was rescheduled for late October, and appears likely to go forward on the cusp of the U.S. presidential election. But it won’t be nearly the same exercise. Well-placed sources in both countries have told TIME that Washington has greatly reduced the scale of U.S. participation, slashing by more than two-thirds the number of American troops going to Israel and reducing both the number and potency of missile interception systems at the core of the joint exercise.

“Basically what the Americans are saying is, ‘We don’t trust you,’” a senior Israeli military official tells TIME.

Yesterday Rozen reported US official statements that seem to counter the TIME interpretation, but many may still be wondering what’s really going on behind closed-door high-level discussions about Israel and Iran.

Jasmin Ramsey

Jasmin Ramsey is a journalist based in Washington, DC.