Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu frantically tried to reach President Donald Trump earlier this week as Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif made a surprise appearance at the G-7 conference in France, Channel 13 reported Thursday night.
Senior Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Netanyahu, pressed US officials, including US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, to arrange a phone call between President Trump and the Israeli premier Sunday, after it was revealed that Zarif would be joining the G-7 conferencei n Biarritz, France.
Netanyahu and other senior Israeli leaders feared Trump could meet with Zarif, and possibly agree to a meeting with Iranian president Rouhani in a bid to thaw relations between the US and Iran. The Israeli premier reportedly tried to call Trump to urge him not to meet with Zarif at the sidelines of the G-7.
According the Channel 13 report which cited unnamed senior Israeli and American officials, the Prime Minister’s Office feared a Trump-Zarif meeting could lead to the unraveling of the US sanctions regime against Tehran, emboldening the Islamic republic at a time when Israel has been working to thwart Iranian attacks from Syrian territory.
While Trump did not meet with Zarif at the G-7 – with some senior American officials reportedly irritated by Zarif’s presence – French President Emmanuel Macron later explained he had invited Zarif to Biarritz in the hopes of advancing a meeting between Trump and President Rouhani.
The report said Netanyahu was unable to reach Trump directly, and cited US officials who said President Trump had decided against meeting Zarif regardless of Netanyahu’s request.
Both the White House and the Prime Minister’s Office declined to comment on the report.
Despite the decision not to meet with Zarif, Israeli officials remain concerned that Trump could meet with Rouhani at the opening of the United Nations General Assembly in late September.