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Israel claims ‘freedom of action’ against Iran

Israel Prime Minister Naftali Bennett dubbed Iran the “greatest threat to the State of Israel” during a cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on Sunday. The prime minister also spoke to US President Joe Biden for the first time in months to discuss growing concerns about Iran and a potential nuclear agreement being discussed in Vienna. 

“Anyone who thinks that an agreement will increase stability is mistaken,” Bennett said, according to a readout his office released to the public. Bennett discussed Iran’s “growing aggression” and “steps for blocking Iran’s nuclear program” in his call with Biden, accusing Iran of ramping up regional attacks amid negotiations.

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“That is how you conduct negotiations, Tehran-style,” Bennett said.

The Israeli leader went on to promise that Israel will maintain “freedom of action” in how it deals with Iran, whether there is a nuclear agreement in place or not. 

“We are currently closing gaps and building up Israel’s military strength for years and even decades to come. Israel will maintain freedom of action in any case, with or without an agreement,” he said.

President Biden “conveyed his unwavering support for Israel’s security and freedom of action, emphasizing his administration’s full support for replenishing Israel’s Iron Dome system,” according to a readout of the call with Bennett, released by the White House.

Tensions between Israel and Iran have increased as attempts to salvage a 2015 nuclear agreement with the latter have entered their final stages, with US officials heading to Vienna once again to work on the potential agreement this week.

READ MORE: Biden grants nuclear sanctions relief to Iran

Israeli media has reported military drills by Israel forces in recent weeks, practicing for strikes on Iran’s nuclear sites.  

Bennett has made clear that Israel is not part of any agreement, as many believe any agreement will be unfavorable to Israel. The prime minister said last month that Israel “is not bound by what is written in the agreements if they are signed.”

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