'Churchill? Netanyahu is more like Golda Meir after Yom Kippur War'

ByARIK BENDER
July 15, 2015 09:43

Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid assails premier over Iran agreement, which he called 'Israel's greatest foreign policy failure'.




What does the Iran nuclear deal mean for Israel?

Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid assailed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s handling of the Iranian nuclear negotiations during Wednesday morning’s opening of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee in Jerusalem.

“Netanyahu is no [Winston] Churchill after World War II,” the former finance minister said. “He’s Golda Meir after the Yom Kippur War.”

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“The Iran nuclear deal is Israel’s biggest foreign policy failure since the establishment of the state,” Lapid said. “It was possible to achieve a better deal, particularly when it comes to the inspections aspect.”

“Leading up to yesterday, the world was convinced that Israel and the US are standing shoulder to shoulder on this issue,” he said. “Yesterday, the world realized that the US is not on Israel’s side when it comes to the nuclear matter.”

“Netanyahu left behind a mess, and he needs to go home,” the Yesh Atid chairman said.
Netanyahu convenes security cabinet: Israel not bound by deal with Iran

Until last Monday, Israeli politicians did not seriously criticize Netanyahu on the Iran issue, because polls show he has the overwhelming support of the public on Iran. Whenever asked about Iran, the heads of opposition parties would say there was no coalition or opposition on the matter.

But Lapid started a trend at last week’s Yesh Atid faction meeting when he called the Iran deal a failure on Netanyahu’s part and called upon him to quit. Lapid continued his attacks Monday, saying that Netanyahu must not be permitted to lead efforts to persuade US Congressmen to vote against the deal.

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog revealed to his Zionist Union faction that he had pokes over the last few days to foreign ministers in the room at the P5+1 talks with Iran in Vienna. He said they did succeed in persuading him that the Iran deal would maintain Israeli security.

At first he said the opposition should wait until after the efforts against the Iran deal have been completed before holding Netanyahu accountable. But Herzog then immediately added that the prime minister’s strategy had failed.

“There must be dialogue with the US, and there hasn’t been because of the prime minister,” Herzog said. “This is a clear failure by him.”

Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman said it was wrong for Israeli leaders to fight with each other on Iran, saying that there should not be a coalition or opposition on the issue. He said he “didn’t want to throw blame around” and that the parties in Israel should agree together on an anti-Iran deal strategy.

But in the same sentence, Liberman also criticized Netanyahu, saying that he “should not have fought publicly with the US.” He also said Lapid was wrong to call for his party to lobby Congress, saying that once a deal is reached in Vienna, countries like China and France would sell arms to Iran, “without waiting a single minute for Congress.”

Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett called upon Lapid and Herzog to withhold their criticism for Netanyahu, “restrain themselves,” and unite against the Iran deal.

“A country that says it wants to destroy Israel is now gaining legitimacy to become a nuclear power,” Bennett said. “The citizens of the West must understand that half a trillion dollars are about to be given to a sponsor of terror, the most dangerous country in the world. The West is commuting international  hara-kiri, and we are trying with our little power to stop it. At such a time, we must be united.”

Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.

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