Talks for the revival of the Iran nuclear accord came to a halt on the threshold of a deal. In the last round of the talks in Vienna, the European Union proposed a draft deal on which Iran and the United States presented their views. Washington branded Tehran’s views as “not constructive”, although it has yet to formally respond. Optimistic speculations for a deal ran rampant days before Iran presented its comments on the EU proposal.
As Iran and the US exchanged messages and the EU, Qatar and Oman propped up their diplomatic efforts to bridge the gulf between Tehran and Washington, JCPOA opponents did not sit idly by and pushed themselves to the utmost to scuttle a possible deal. Israel, as a staunch opponent, did its utmost and several Israeli officials visited the US to talk Americans out.
Now reports suggest that the talks have been postponed until after US midterms and Israeli general election both in November. The two elections apparently had a significant effect on the failure of negotiations at this stage.
The upcoming Knesset election follows three years of political uncertainty in Israel where a shaky coalition between Yesh Atid party led by Yair Lapid and Yamina political alliance of right-wing parties led by Naftali Bennett fell apart in July, resulting in the collapse of the cabinet. Their rival party Likud headed by Benjamin Netanyahu is now gearing up to lock horns with them to win a slim majority and rise to power again.
Likud, a major center-right to right-wing political party, has taken extremely tough stances against Iran and the JCPOA.
Some experts believe that a deal on JCPOA before the Israeli election could have lent the upper hand to Likud, making it a propaganda weapon for the far-right party and Netanyahu to lash out at Lapid and Bennett for their inabilities to prevent the Iran deal.
Therefore, the US failure to show flexibility for an agreement appears to be linked to the Israeli election. During his premiership, Netanyahu’s relationship with the Republicans and Donald Trump's administration was so close that some believe Trump pulled out of the JCPOA due to Netanyahu’s insistence.
The Biden administration is not seemingly interested in seeing Netanyahu win the election and has postponed a possible deal so as to strip him of using an anti-JCPOA agenda on the campaign trail.
A week into the Israeli snap election, Americans will head to the polls in congregational vote. Democrats currently have a narrow majority in Congress and are worried about losing it. The Biden administration’s performance has fueled their concerns. It is no secret that the Israeli lobby in the US can influence elections.
Signing a deal ahead of congressional election could possibly push the Israeli lobby to rally support for the Republicans. Therefore, the Biden administration preferred not to take risks and postponed the talks until after the election. In addition, in order to fend off the Republicans’ criticism about “flexibility” toward Iran, the Biden administration will likely intensify its anti-Iran measures such as sanctions and war of words.
Thus, the elections in the US and Israel are one of the main reasons for America's hesitation and foot-dragging in showing flexibility and signing a JCPOA revival deal.