Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met with US Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook Tuesday morning, for talks on a number of key issues regarding joint US-Israeli efforts to curtail Tehran’s nuclear program and bid to expand its conventional weapons arsenal.

At a joint press conference with Hook, Netanyahu made a veiled retort to his coalition partner, Benny Gantz.

“We have serious issues to discuss – they are so serious that they cannot even wait for COVID-19.”

A day earlier, Gantz said that the Israeli government should deal exclusively with the coronavirus pandemic and related economic crisis, adding that everything else “can wait” until afterwards.

Gantz made the comments during a meeting with US envoy Avi Berkowitz and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman on the sovereignty plan. Gantz, who serves as Alternate Prime Minister, said July 1st, the first day the sovereignty plan can be brought to the government, is not a “holy day”, and that the move can be pushed off till after the coronavirus crisis.

Netanyahu went on to warn against the sun-setting of weapons sales sanctions against Iran, urging the immediate “snapping back” of sanctions.

“I believe it is time to implement snapback sanctions,” said Netanyahu, “I don’t think we can afford to wait. We should not wait for Iran to start its breakout to a nuclear weapon, because then it will be too late for sanctions.”

The weapons sanctions are currently set to expire in October, as part of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

“Iran denies access to the IAEA inspectors to important sites,” Netanyahu continued. “Iran arms, trains, finances, and dispatches terrorists.”

“Iran is doing all of that, and most of the international community is doing nothing in the face of that, and worse than nothing, many countries collude in this aggression.”

Hook said the US backed Israel’s call to extend the ban on arms sales to Iran, warning that without the sanctions in place, Iran could become not only a major importer of military equipment but also an exporter.

“We see eye to eye on the dangers of letting the arms embargo expire on Iran,” said Hook.

“In four short months, Iran will be able to freely import fighter jets, attack helicopters, warships, submarines, large-caliber artillery systems and missiles of certain ranges.”

“Iran will then be in a position to export these weapons and their technologies to their proxies, such as Hezbollah, Palestine Islamic Jihad, Hamas, Shia militia groups in Iraq, Syria militant networks in Bahrain and to the Houthis in Yemen.”

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