Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu embarked on a US media blitz on Wednesday, a day after the world powers reached a nuclear agreement with Iran, in a full-court effort to explain to Americans why Israel believes this is a “bad, bad deal.”
“They decided that they want to wipe Israel off the map,” Netanyahu said of the Iranian regime in an interview on CBS.
“If somebody says, ‘I’m going to destroy you,’ you know, what you want to do is make sure they can’t.”
PM Netanyahu's Interview on NBC News
Netanyahu was also interviewed by ABC, NBC and National Public Radio.
The interviews were part of a tactic to take the battle against the agreement to the American people, in an effort to influence Congress to vote against the lifting of US sanctions called for in the accord. Even if Congress does vote against the deal, the prime minister would then face the daunting task of trying to convince enough senators and congressmen to override a presidential veto that US President Barack Obama vowed to use.
Obama, in a New York Times
interview on Wednesday, said that while the prime minister “perhaps thinks he can further influence the congressional debate,” Obama is “confident we’re going to be able to uphold this deal and implement it without Congress preventing that.”
In an indication of the direction that Netanyahu is taking the battle, he told the Knesset during a Knesset session in honor of Ze’ev Jabotinsky that “the agreement signed in Vienna is not the end of the story. We will continue to fight.”
He said that Jabotinsky, as well as Theodor Herzl, understood that “in the modern world turning to public opinion is vital in furthering the interests of a sovereign state.”
He then quoted Jabotinsky as saying that there was no friendship in diplomatic matters, “only pressure,” and that what tips the balance on diplomatic matters is not whether a particular ruler is “good or bad,” but rather the amount of pressure applied.
The West, Netanyahu said from the Knesset rostrum, has shown a propensity in the past to accept totalitarian regimes and “look for quiet at any price.
Not everyone has internalized the lessons of history, and even today the powers are falling into a trap of smiles.
“I am not saying that we are in 1938 for two reasons, first that then there was no precedent and today there is, and second, today we have a state and then we didn’t, and its job is to continue acting against things that endanger it,” he said “If it weren’t for the efforts led by Israel, Iran would have already been able to arm itself with nuclear bombs long ago,” Netanyahu asserted.
“We put the Iranian matter on the stage of world opinion,” he added. “We led the forceful sanctions, because of which Iran had to join negotiations.
We drew a redline on the topic of enriching uranium that has yet to be crossed.”
Netanyahu, in his CBS interview, stressed a number of problems Israel has with the deal.
Netanyahu reaffirms the right to self-defence after Iran nuclear deal
“I think that giving the preeminent terrorist state of our time access to nuclear technology that they will ultimately turn into an arsenal of nuclear weapons and hundreds of billions of dollars to finance their terror machine is bad for everyone for them, for us Israel, for the Arab countries around us and for the United States,” he said.
Turning to specifics, he said that one major problem Israel has with the agreement is that instead of “anywhere, anytime” inspections as promised beforehand, the accord gives the Iranians 24 days – not 24 hours – notice before a “snap” inspection of a suspected site.
“Now can you imagine you’re a drug dealer and somebody tells you, ‘I want to inspect your premises?’ That’s a lot of time, 24 days, to flush a lot of meth down the toilet,” he said. “So I think the inspection regime is full of holes and I think that Iran will be able to cheat.”
And even if the Iranians do not cheat, he said, within 10 years they will be free to “build as many centrifuges as they want and with that they can take their mountains of yellowcake, churn it into enriched uranium and be in a position with almost zero breakout time to rush to produce many, many bombs.”
Regarding the tension this issue is causing in US-Israel ties, Netanyahu said that the US is a great ally of Israel, “but on a matter as monumental as this, that affects not merely our national security, [but] our very future,” it is his “obligation to speak up and talk about it.
“I believe the alliance with the United States will hold firm,” he said.Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.