Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said this week that Iran's new president was a "wolf in sheep's clothing", but he himself looked increasingly like a lone wolf as his allies seek to bring Tehran into the fold.
One Western diplomat involved in Iranian nuclear diplomacy described Netanyahu as "out of step" with the mood of detente and a former senior US official cautioned that Israel would be unlikely to secure all its demands in any negotiations.
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A diplomat from one of the P5+1 countries directly involved in the negotiations with Tehran stressed that while Israel's view was important, it did not have power of veto.
Netanyahu with Obama (Photo: AP)
"Israel will not be in the room if and when a deal is done," said the diplomat, who declined to be named. "We take Israeli concerns very seriously. But I have a feeling that Netanyahu is slightly out of step with other nations at the moment."
Not a member of the international negotiating team, the Israeli leader nonetheless laid out his conditions for a deal, including shutting down all Iranian uranium enrichment facilities and shipping out all its stocks of fissile material.
A former US official cautioned that a comprehensive nuclear rollback on Iran's side looks highly unlikely, meaning Netanyahu will have to calibrate his expectations.
"Negotiating means there will have to be some give on both sides," said Gary Samore, until recently the top nuclear proliferation expert on Obama's national security staff.
"I think it's unlikely that we are in a position to dictate to the Iranians that they have to meet all of our demands."
While Netanyahu still enjoys broad support at home for his unyielding approach, aides said he worried that Western powers, impressed by more clement rhetoric from new Iranian President Hassan Rohani, will "fumble the ball" and let Iran reach a point where it could rapidly put together a nuclear weapon.
Netanyahu has many friends in the US Congress and some of his key security officials believe that despite the reticence shown by lawmakers for action against Damascus, they would nonetheless rally to Israel's support in a showdown with Iran.
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