Olmert, Netanyahu Trade Barbs Over Iran

YERUSHALAYIM -

Late last week, President Barack Obama reportedly asked Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to “take a breather” from his vocal dissent on the Iran deal, and on Sunday his predecessor, Ehud Olmert, took a turn.

Netanyahu refused, insisting that continued criticism of the Iran deal is his duty as prime minister.

“In contrast to others, when I see that the vital security interests of Israeli citizens are at stake, I will not [be quiet],” he said.

Olmert had accused Netanyahu earlier in the day of harming the bilateral relationship with Washington.

“We have declared war on the U.S. That cannot be disputed,” Olmert said, adding that Israel needs to be kept from anything that might be interpreted as a “fight” with its most important ally. Olmert was speaking at an Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) conference in Tel Aviv.

“It is very easy to keep quiet,” retorted Netanyahu. “It is easy to receive pats on the shoulder from the international community, to bow one’s head, but I am committed to the security of my people.

“I am committed to the future of my country, and in contrast to periods in the past, we have a loud and clear voice among the nations and we will make it heard in order to warn, in time, against dangers.”

Olmert said he agreed that a nuclear Iran is a threat to Israel. He said the U.S. is the one that should spearhead the international struggle against Iran obtaining nuclear weapons, not Israel.