John Kerry 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Yuri Gripas)
Israeli government officials declined to comment Tuesday on US Secretary of
State John Kerry’s remarks that the US would “not succumb” to fear tactics by
those opposing the current diplomatic engagement with Iran.
“We are not
interpreting those comments,” one official said.
Kerry said US President
Barack Obama had charged him with testing “whether or not Iran really desires to
pursue only a peaceful [nuclear] program.”
While not saying whom he had
in mind, Kerry said that “some have suggested that somehow there’s something
wrong with even putting that to the test. I suggest that the idea that the
United States of America, as a responsible nation to all of humankind, would not
explore that possibility would be the height of irresponsibility and dangerous
in itself, and we will not succumb to those fear tactics and forces that suggest
Kerry also said, however, that “no deal is better than a bad
deal, because a bad deal could actually wind up creating greater
While some observers quickly concluded that Kerry’s barbs were
aimed at Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
, others suggested that his words were
actually directed toward the US Senate, which is expected to vote this week on a
new round of stiff sanctions against Iran that passed the House by a huge margin
The administration has argued that these sanctions would hurt
the current diplomatic efforts with Iran.
organizations, which have supported the sanctions resolution, to back off
support for the new measures may be what was behind a meeting the White House
initiated Tuesday between top National Security Council staffers, and leaders of
the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, the American Jewish Committee and
the Anti-Defamation League.
Meanwhile, the White House issued a statement
saying that Obama had spoken to Netanyahu on Monday to discuss negotiations over
the Iranian nuclear crisis and ongoing talks between the Israelis and
The White House said the two leaders had also discussed
other regional issues, including developments in Syria.
Minister’s Office did not release a readout of the conversation, but officials
in Jerusalem advised against reading anything into the silence, saying that the
Prime Minister’s Office did not report on every Obama-Netanyahu phone
The call came shortly after Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz
visited the US to meet with Vice President Joe Biden and to engage in a round of
strategic dialogue with officials at the State Department.
met in Rome last week with Kerry.
In his speech at the United Nations
General Assembly in September, Obama said his greatest foreign policy goals were
a peaceful resolution to the Iranian nuclear issue and a final-status agreement
between Israel and the Palestinians.