Israel’s political establishment reacted with anger and caution at the announcement Saturday night that Iran had more or less complied with international demands to dismantle its offensive nuclear development capabilities – paving the way for the removal of international sanctions. After the announcement by the International Atomic Energy Agency that Iran had fulfilled its obligations to the organization, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu issued a statement saying that “even after signing the nuclear deal, Iran has not relinquished its ambition to obtain nuclear weapons, and continues to act to destabilize the Middle East and spread terror throughout the world while violating its international commitments.
“The world powers and [the U.N. atomic watchdog] must closely follow the activities at Iran’s nuclear sites and other sites to ensure it is not continuing to clandestinely develop nuclear weapons,” Netanyahu said, adding that Israel would “closely follow the implementation of the deal and warn of any violation.”
Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, reiterated Netanyahu’s comments, saying in a statement that “Iran is continuing to strive for nuclear weapons and the optimism of the IAEA report must not blind the international community. The removal of the sanctions facilitates the terrorism that Tehran sponsors around the world, and Israel will continue to monitor closely all the activities of Iran, in terms of the nuclear threat and the terror threat.”
Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan said that the situation now was more dangerous for Israel, considering the fact that billions of dollars will soon be freed for use by Iran with the lifting of sanctions. “All this is taking place while Iran continues to supply weapons to Hizbullah and Hamas, and interferes with the internal affairs of Gulf states, ignoring decisions of the U.N. Security Council, as it continues to develop ballistic missiles.”
Members of the opposition also expressed their dismay at the announcement. Yesh Atid head Yair Lapid said that “removing the sanctions on Iran will strengthen Hizbullah, strengthen Syria’s Assad, and strengthen above all regional terror, which is supported by Iran.”
Not all Israeli politicians were as alarmed by the news – with several using the apparent “failure” of Netanyahu to prevent the Iran deal from going through as an example of the government’s failed policy. In a statement, Meretz MK Ilan Gilon said that last year, the prime minister had said that all of Israel’s efforts and resources needed to be put into the battle against the Iran nuclear deal. “So now that the deal has been done, can we get back to the other issues that we put on the side, like pensions for the disabled, the housing crisis, the minimum wage, and poverty? Until now we have ignored all this based on the argument that any moment Iran was going to blow us to smithereens. Now it looks like the story is over and we are still here. So what will be the prime minister’s next excuse?”