Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu .
(photo credit: REUTERS)
US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter arrived in Israel on Sunday night as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu indicated an unwillingness to speak about any “compensation” the US could provide to make Israel feel more secure after last week’s signing of the Iranian nuclear deal.
Netanyahu, in an interview Sunday on ABC, said there was much talk about compensating Israel.
The question that needed to be asked, the premier said, was, “If this deal is supposed to make Israel and our Arab neighbors safer, why should we be compensated with anything?” Furthermore, he said, “how can you compensate a country, my country, against a terrorist regime that is sworn to our destruction and is going to get a path to nuclear bombs and billions of dollars to boot for its terror activities against us.”
PM Netanyahu interviews in foreign news channels
Carter is scheduled to meet Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon on Monday, and hold a press conference with him. On Tuesday, he is scheduled to meet Netanyahu.
Carter is expected to visit IDF troops in the North, as well as travel to Jordan and Saudi Arabia, where there is also a great deal of unease over the nuclear deal.
The dispatch of Carter to Israel so soon after the signing of the deal was widely interpreted as an effort to ease Israel’s considerable concern about the security implications of the agreement.
US Defence Secretary Carter meets Israeli counterpart Ya'alon
US President Barack Obama, in a New York Times interview last week, said, he is prepared to go “further than any other administration’s gone before” in terms of providing Israel with additional US security assurances.
US Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, in a briefing with Israeli diplomatic reporters last week, said that Obama, during his phone conversation with Netanyahu soon after the announcement of the deal, tried to “talk about ways that they might enhance future security cooperation with Israel,” but that Netanyahu was “not ready to have that discussion yet.”
Asked on ABC whether he would personally lobby Congress, which has 60 days to review and vote on the agreement, Netanyahu said it was “very important” for him as the “prime minister of the one and only Jewish state to make our case against a deal that we believe endangers our security, our survival even, and the security of the Middle East and the world.”
Netanyahu said that rather agree to this accord, another deal should have been negotiated along the lines of “dismantle for dismantle” – Iran dismantle its nuclear infrastructure, in exchange for the dismantling of the sanctions.
“That was the original administration position,” he said.
Another alternative, he said, was to partly dismantle Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, and keep the international pressure on the Islamic Republic until it stopped its terrorism and subversion around the region and the world.
Now, he said, Iran gets to keep its nuclear infrastructure, while the sanctions will be dismantled in a short time.
Netanyahu pushed back against the idea that the whole world was celebrating this deal, except for Israel.
“The Arab leaders who are talking to me are not celebrating it,” he said, though he did not elaborate with whom he was speaking. He pointed out that there is bipartisan agreement in Israel that “this is a very bad deal.”
At the opening of the weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu addressed one of the US administration’s main arguments: Neither Israel – nor anyone else – provided any viable alternative to this deal.
“The alternative to this failed agreement, which we proposed repeatedly, is the continuation and strengthening of the sanctions on Iran and conditioning the lifting of the restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program, and the lifting of the pressure on Iran, only if it changes its policy,” he said. “As long as the Iranian leadership is encouraging calls of ‘Death to America’ and ‘Death to Israel,’ there is no reason to make any concessions to them.”
Netanyahu said that if anyone thought the “extraordinary con - cessions” made to Iran would lead to a change in its positions, they received a “crushing answer over the weekend,” when Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei made clear that the deal would not alter Iran’s policies in the region.Yaakov Lappin contributed to this report.