With little fanfare, "unofficial" talks between Israel and the United States addressing the aftermath of the Iran nuclear deal have reportedly begun two weeks ago.
Both senior American and Israeli sources say current low-level contacts will evolve in the coming weeks into full-fledged meetings between the US and Israel's highest officials.
According to a Haaretz report on Sunday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu initially refused US President Barack Obama's invitations to discuss upgrading the capabilities of the IDF in the wake of the deal's announcement in July, preferring, instead, to fight it in Congress.
However, after prompting from officials at the Foreign Ministry at a Rosh Hashana toast last week, as well as a failed congressional initiative to block the deal, Netanyahu seemed poised to begin talks on compensation for Israel following the implementation of the deal.
Discussions had, in actuality, begun four days prior to the Foreign Ministry meeting when the man in charge of sanctions against Iran, Adam Szubin, Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Crimes at the US Department of the Treasury, arrived in Israel.
Jerusalem and Washington defined Szubin's talks in Israel as "routine," but both Israeli and American officials assert they led naturally to discussions of future security and diplomatic cooperation between the US and Israel regarding Iran.
“In the last month once it became clear that the deal will survive the Congressional review, you couldn’t completely wall that off from talks about ‘the day after.’ There doesn’t need to be some big announcement that now we are beginning those talks. It is happening more naturally,” a senior American official told Haaretz.
Israeli-American talks about the aftermath of the nuclear agreement continued last week when the Foreign Ministry's Deputy Director General Jeremy Isaacharoff arrived in Washington to discuss Iran as well as security collaboration between Israel and the US.
According to a senior US official, key topics discussed during Isaacharoff's meeting with Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military affairs Puneet Talwar included American aid to upgrade Israel's military capabilities as well as maintenance of its qualitative edge.
“They discussed a wide range of issues as part of our continuing and regular bilateral consultations, including security cooperation, our commitment to ensuring Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge, and ways to continue building on our progress to date in expanding our enduring strategic partnership,” the official said.
Talks between Israel and the US will accelerate in the coming weeks and include several high-level meetings. Netanyahu will meet with US Secretary of State John Kerry at the end of the month as the UN General Assembly comes to a close and Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon is headed to Washington in mid-October for talks on an aid package for Israel with US counterpart Ashton Carter.
These discussions will culminate with a highly anticipated meeting planned for the second week of November between Netanyahu and Obama, after a year of no face-to-face contact.