Netanyahu: ‘Israel Not Bound by Iran Deal’

YERUSHALAYIM -
Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu speaks at a news conference in Yerushalayim Tuesday. (REUTERS/Ammar Awad)
Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu speaks at a news conference in Yerushalayim Tuesday. (REUTERS/Ammar Awad)

While the framers of the Iran nuclear deal were hailing it as a historic breakthrough on Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu delivered a ringing denunciation of it as a “stunning historic mistake.”

Israel “is not bound by this deal with an Iran that continues to seek our destruction,” declared Netanyahu. Later, on Tuesday evening, the Security Cabinet unanimously rejected the deal and backed the prime minister’s position that Israel is not obligated by it.

At a special press conference in Yerushalayim on Tuesday following the news from Vienna, Netanyahu said, “The world today is a far more dangerous place than it was yesterday” as a result of the agreement. “The world powers bet our collective future on a deal with the world’s number one sponsor of terror,” the prime minister said.

Netanyahu remarks were in stark contrast to Obama’s earlier in the day presenting the deal as one that would make the world safer.

“The deal gives Iran every incentive not to change,” Netanyahu said. “The deal will give Iran a cash bonanza of hundreds of billions of dollars which will fuel its efforts to destroy Israel. Amazingly, it does not require Iran to cease its aggressive behavior in any way.”

Netanyahu noted that the agreement was inevitable when the United States was willing to cave in to Iranian demands even as Tehran officials led public calls of “Death to America” at an annual mass rally on Friday.

He further observed that Israel was never under any illusion that it could control the outcome of the negotiations, but that didn’t mean it would stand by and allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons. “In any case, we never committed ourselves to preventing an agreement, certainly not one that the major powers are ready to sign at any price.”

“Our commitment is to prevent Iran from arming itself with nuclear weapons, and it is valid today more than ever. I call on all those who care about Israel’s security to unite behind this commitment.”

In a phone call to Netanyahu sometime later, U.S. President Barack Obama underscored the United States’ commitment to Israel’s security, the White House said. Obama noted during the call that Secretary of Defense Ash Carter will be traveling to Israel next week, “a reflection of the unprecedented level of security cooperation” between the two countries.

During the conversation, Netanyahu pointed out that the agreement raises two main dangers: “It will afford Iran the ability to arm itself with nuclear weapons in 10-15 years time, whether it keeps to the agreement, and beforehand if it breaks the deal,” Reuters said, quoting an Israeli government source. “Additionally, it will channel billions of dollars to the Iranian terror and war machine which threatens Israel and the entire world.”

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry dismissed Netanyahu’s harsh criticism as “over the top” and implied that it was based on ignorance. “This is under attack by people who really don’t know the terms of the agreement,” Kerry told NBC News.

“What the critics of this plan never offer … is a realistic alternative,” he said, displaying evident frustration. “It’s wrong for people to think this doesn’t have long-term accountability.”

Netanyahu’s hint that Israel has not ruled out taking military action was echoed by Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, who said the country would be forced to “defend itself, by itself.”

“This evil regime employs terror, funds terror, arms terror and disseminates terror across the world. The agreement signed with Iran will only serve to further support this bloody enterprise. With the implementation of the agreement and lifting of sanctions, massive funds will be funneled into the Iranian terror accounts — boosting its evil operations,” he warned.

Yaalon said the agreement would not succeed in closing a single reactor or destroying a single centrifuge. He said Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey and other Middle East nations shared Israel’s concerns.

An Israeli security source warned against Iran’s “tricks and shticks” that he said would surely follow the “inconceivably dangerous” deal, Ynet reported.

The daily friction between the coalition and opposition saw a respite, however partial, as politicians on both sides of the divide condemned the deal.

Former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said: “History will remember the Iran deal just like the Munich Agreement and the agreement with North Korea.”

Yesh Atid party chairman MK Yair Lapid said the deal endangers the security of Israel and the world.

“The Iranians are lying, and the world wants to be lied to. They lied about the reactor at Natanz, they lied about the percentages of enrichment at the Fordow reactor, they lied about their military plan and they lied about the plutonium reactor at Arak.

“The fact that, after all this, the powers gave in to them on the matter of
supervision is incomprehensible,” he stated. “The citizens of Israel need to understand: According to the agreement, if the International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors suspect that the Iranians are cheating, they have to inform the committee 24 days ahead of time that they want to carry out an inspection, and then even if they receive the go-ahead, they must not enter unaccompanied into the nuclear sites.”

This is not an inspection regime but “a mockery,” he said.

However, while the opposition agreed that the deal was bad for Israel, some accused the prime minister of taking the wrong approach on the nuclear talks, thereby worsening Israel’s position.

Zionist Camp leader Yitzchak Herzog said that had Netanyahu not feuded with the Obama administration, Israel would be receiving a military assistance package as “compensation” for the deal.

“If you go to a deal, as bad as it may be, the way to minimize its damage is by arriving at an agreement with the U.S. on a very significant security package,” Herzog told Israel Radio, pointing to similar agreements negotiated by the U.S.-aligned Sunni Gulf states. “Israel is avoiding doing this and is not negotiating with the U.S.”

Herzog announced he was leaving for the U.S. to “demand a dramatic package of security measures for Israel.”

Zionist Camp co-chair Tzipi Livni lamented the fact that Israel had no influence on the terms of the deal. It is “a dramatic agreement, and Israel is not there,” she said.

“If anything is clear, it is that Netanyahu is ineffective,” she said.

Israel received an official copy of the 100-page agreement, a senior official in Yerushalayim said Tuesday afternoon, shortly before the sides’ formal announcement. Israel’s political-security cabinet met later in the day to discuss the nuclear deal.

Amid reports every day of an imminent agreement, Israel has been planning for the day after. Dore Gold, the Foreign Ministry director-general, said that Israel won’t be shy about making its views on the Iran deal heard on Capitol Hill. “We’ll do it respectfully, but we have to tell the truth,” he told The Times of Israel.

Gold framed the imperative to thwart Iran’s ambitions in global terms, and invoked the Cold War. “Imagine you could stop the Soviet Union in 1945 from getting nuclear weapons. Imagine you had no Cold War. That would have been a much safer and better world,” he said. “It’s understandable how it happened, how the Cold War emerged from World War II. But here, with Iran, you have the chance to prevent it. And if you don’t prevent it, you’re setting the stage for the next global struggle.”

Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said that Israel will employ all diplomatic means to prevent confirmation of the agreement.

Former head of military intelligence, Amos Yadlin, told reporters on Tuesday that Israel should seek a written agreement with President Obama to ensure his support from a security standpoint.

“We have to push for Obama to turn his verbal support for us into a [written] agreement,” Yadlin said. the Security Cabinet unanimously rejected the deal and backed the prime minister’s position that Israel is not obligated by it.

At a special press conference in Yerushalayim on Tuesday following the news from Vienna, Netanyahu said, “The world today is a far more dangerous place than it was yesterday” as a result of the agreement. “The world powers bet our collective future on a deal with the world’s number one sponsor of terror,” the prime minister said.

Netanyahu remarks were in stark contrast to Obama’s earlier in the day presenting the deal as one that would make the world safer.

“The deal gives Iran every incentive not to change,” Netanyahu said. “The deal will give Iran a cash bonanza of hundreds of billions of dollars which will fuel its efforts to destroy Israel. Amazingly, it does not require Iran to cease its aggressive behavior in any way.”

Netanyahu noted that the agreement was inevitable when the United States was willing to cave in to Iranian demands even as Tehran officials led public calls of “Death to America” at an annual mass rally on Friday.

He further observed that Israel was never under any illusion that it could control the outcome of the negotiations, but that didn’t mean it would stand by and allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons. “In any case, we never committed ourselves to preventing an agreement, certainly not one that the major powers are ready to sign at any price.”

“Our commitment is to prevent Iran from arming itself with nuclear weapons, and it is valid today more than ever. I call on all those who care about Israel’s security to unite behind this commitment.”

In a phone call to Netanyahu sometime later, U.S. President Barack Obama underscored the United States’ commitment to Israel’s security, the White House said. Obama noted during the call that Secretary of Defense Ash Carter will be traveling to Israel next week, “a reflection of the unprecedented level of security cooperation” between the two countries.

During the conversation, Netanyahu pointed out that the agreement raises two main dangers: “It will afford Iran the ability to arm itself with nuclear weapons in 10-15 years time, whether it keeps to the agreement, and beforehand if it breaks the deal,” Reuters said, quoting an Israeli government source. “Additionally, it will channel billions of dollars to the Iranian terror and war machine which threatens Israel and the entire world.”

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry dismissed Netanyahu’s harsh criticism as “over the top” and implied that it was based on ignorance. “This is under attack by people who really don’t know the terms of the agreement,” Kerry told NBC News.

“What the critics of this plan never offer … is a realistic alternative,” he said, displaying evident frustration. “It’s wrong for people to think this doesn’t have long-term accountability.”

Netanyahu’s hint that Israel has not ruled out taking military action was echoed by Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, who said the country would be forced to “defend itself, by itself.”

“This evil regime employs terror, funds terror, arms terror and disseminates terror across the world. The agreement signed with Iran will only serve to further support this bloody enterprise. With the implementation of the agreement and lifting of sanctions, massive funds will be funneled into the Iranian terror accounts — boosting its evil operations,” he warned.

Yaalon said the agreement would not succeed in closing a single reactor or destroying a single centrifuge. He said Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey and other Middle East nations shared Israel’s concerns.

An Israeli security source warned against Iran’s “tricks and shticks” that he said would surely follow the “inconceivably dangerous” deal, Ynet reported.

The daily friction between the coalition and opposition saw a respite, however partial, as politicians on both sides of the divide condemned the deal.

Former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said: “History will remember the Iran deal just like the Munich Agreement and the agreement with North Korea.”

Yesh Atid party chairman MK Yair Lapid said the deal endangers the security of Israel and the world.

“The Iranians are lying, and the world wants to be lied to. They lied about the reactor at Natanz, they lied about the percentages of enrichment at the Fordow reactor, they lied about their military plan and they lied about the plutonium reactor at Arak.

“The fact that, after all this, the powers gave in to them on the matter of
supervision is incomprehensible,” he stated. “The citizens of Israel need to understand: According to the agreement, if the International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors suspect that the Iranians are cheating, they have to inform the committee 24 days ahead of time that they want to carry out an inspection, and then even if they receive the go-ahead, they must not enter unaccompanied into the nuclear sites.”

This is not an inspection regime but “a mockery,” he said.

However, while the opposition agreed that the deal was bad for Israel, some accused the prime minister of taking the wrong approach on the nuclear talks, thereby worsening Israel’s position.

Zionist Camp leader Yitzchak Herzog said that had Netanyahu not feuded with the Obama administration, Israel would be receiving a military assistance package as “compensation” for the deal.

“If you go to a deal, as bad as it may be, the way to minimize its damage is by arriving at an agreement with the U.S. on a very significant security package,” Herzog told Israel Radio, pointing to similar agreements negotiated by the U.S.-aligned Sunni Gulf states. “Israel is avoiding doing this and is not negotiating with the U.S.”

Herzog announced he was leaving for the U.S. to “demand a dramatic package of security measures for Israel.”

Zionist Camp co-chair Tzipi Livni lamented the fact that Israel had no influence on the terms of the deal. It is “a dramatic agreement, and Israel is not there,” she said.

“If anything is clear, it is that Netanyahu is ineffective,” she said.

Israel received an official copy of the 100-page agreement, a senior official in Yerushalayim said Tuesday afternoon, shortly before the sides’ formal announcement. Israel’s political-security cabinet met later in the day to discuss the nuclear deal.

Amid reports every day of an imminent agreement, Israel has been planning for the day after. Dore Gold, the Foreign Ministry director-general, said that Israel won’t be shy about making its views on the Iran deal heard on Capitol Hill. “We’ll do it respectfully, but we have to tell the truth,” he told The Times of Israel.

Gold framed the imperative to thwart Iran’s ambitions in global terms, and invoked the Cold War. “Imagine you could stop the Soviet Union in 1945 from getting nuclear weapons. Imagine you had no Cold War. That would have been a much safer and better world,” he said. “It’s understandable how it happened, how the Cold War emerged from World War II. But here, with Iran, you have the chance to prevent it. And if you don’t prevent it, you’re setting the stage for the next global struggle.”

Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said that Israel will employ all diplomatic means to prevent confirmation of the agreement.

Former head of military intelligence, Amos Yadlin, told reporters on Tuesday that Israel should seek a written agreement with President Obama to ensure his support from a security standpoint.

“We have to push for Obama to turn his verbal support for us into a [written] agreement,” Yadlin said.