White House, Israel locked in information war over Iran

Press TV — Nov 17, 2013

Senior Israeli officials are storming the Capital Hill to feed false information to American lawmakers in an effort to discredit the White House’s nuclear proposal to Iran, a report says.

The Obama administration has provided facts and figures to members of Congress about its sanctions relief proposal to foster support for a deal on Iran’s nuclear program.

But some lawmakers do not trust the data provided by White House officials. They instead appear to trust conflicting data supplied privately by Israeli officials, the Foreign Policy magazine reports, citing congressional aides.

Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council — the US, Britain, France, Russia and China — plus Germany ended nuclear negotiations without a deal in Geneva last week. The two sides are set to meet again on November 20.

Israeli Minister of Economy Naftali Bennett is in the US lobbying lawmakers on the Hill.

The Israeli campaign includes one-on-one meetings with members of Congress to move them away from official US assessments about the nuclear talks.

Israel’s lobbying effort has manifested itself in facts and figures cited by multiple lawmakers which the Obama administration says are widely inaccurate.

For instance, according to a source briefed by senior officials, the White House is offering to ease sanctions to the tune of up to $9 billion. However Israeli officials are telling members of Congress that the US is prepared to offer Iran $20 billion in sanctions relief.

Israel’s Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz has pegged the figure to $40 billion.

Israel and its pressure groups are also providing false information about Iran’s proposals to the West regarding its nuclear energy program, the Foreign Policy said.

“There are very large, inaccurate, false numbers out there in terms of what’s on the table,” State Department spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki said Thursday.

The wide discrepancies led to major disagreements during Wednesday’s classified briefing between Secretary of State John Kerry and members of the Senate Banking Committee.

One Senate aide told The Cable that administration officials repeatedly had to shoot down data cited by senators provided by Israeli officials.

“You’d raise the Israeli perspective and they’d say, that’s wrong — the Israelis don’t know what they’re talking about,” the aide said.”The administration would interrupt, ‘that information is inaccurate.'”

Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), one of the architects of anti-Iran sanctions, said Kerry’s briefing was “anti-Israeli.”

“The administration very disappointingly said, ‘discount what the Israelis say,” he told reporters after the briefing. “I don’t. I think the Israelis probably have a pretty good intelligence service.” Kirk added.