Israel will not be bound by a “bad agreement” with Iran, and when it says “never
again,” it means it, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said on Sunday night at a
press conference with French President François Hollande.
conference followed a visit Hollande, accompanied by Netanyahu, paid to Yad
Vashem, and the prime minister evoked the Holocaust in explaining his thinking
“You said when you came out [of Yad Vashem] that the experience
of the Holocaust places a very special responsibility on all of us,” Netanyahu
said. “François, I want to tell you the burden it places on me. It is my duty to
prevent anyone who credibly threatens to execute another Holocaust against the
Jewish people. This is my obligation, but our common obligation for mankind and
for our common future.”
Netanyahu praised Hollande for the tough stand
has taken on Iran and said that France has stood up “for what is right, and I
Hollande, who upon landing in Israel said that
France would not surrender to nuclear proliferation and would stand firm by its
demands on the Iranians before consenting to an interim agreement, spelled out
at the press conference at the Prime Minister’s Residence what those conditions
Hollande said France was demanding that all Iran’s nuclear
installations be placed under international controls, the suspension of all
uranium enrichment to 20 percent, the reduction of existing stockpiles of
enriched uranium, and a complete halt to the construction of the heavy water
reactor at Arak.
“These are four points fundamental for an agreement to
be reached,” he said.
Hollande said firm guarantees that Tehran had
abandoned its nuclear weapons program were necessary.
“We want a serious,
significant agreement that will give results,” the French president said, adding
that the sanctions pressure needed to be continued, and that it was the
sanctions that have moved the Iranians at all.
Netanyahu said that from
his point of view a good agreement was one that dismantled the Islamic
Republic’s ability to prepare fissile material, which is the core material of a
Though reiterating his opposition to interim agreements – such as
the one the P5+1 is discussing with Iran – the prime minister said he could live
with it if it was within the framework of an agreement that would dismantle
Unfortunately, he said, that was not currently on
the table, and what was being discussed was a deal that would allow Tehran to
keep in place capabilities that would enable it to create enough fissile
material for a bomb within “26 days.”
While Iran dominated Netanyahu’s
talks with Hollande, as well as the public statements made during the French
president’s first day here, Hollande did say on a number of occasions that
France backed the current negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, and
that both sides were going to need to make gestures to the other.
about the settlement issue, he said that they make it less likely to reach an
agreement, and that he was pleased that Israel backed away last week from an
announcement of preliminary plans for more than 20,000 housing units over the
Hollande is expected to address the Palestinian issue more on
Monday, during his meeting in Ramallah with the Palestinian
After Ramallah he is scheduled to address the Knesset, and
then will be President Shimon Peres’s guest at a state dinner.
his arrival at the head of a massive delegation that included seven ministers
and some 200 businessmen, aides and journalists, Peres officially welcomed
Hollande at his residence in the capital.
Hollande then laid a wreath at
Theodor Herzl’s grave, visited Yitzhak Rabin’s grave, and went to Yad Vashem
before meeting Netanyahu in private, followed by a dinner meeting.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius accompanied Hollande, he left suddenly
when it was learned that French hostage François Collomp had freed himself from
captivity in Nigeria. Fabius left Israel for Nigeria to receive
Hollande is the first of three major world statesmen Netanyahu will
meet this week. On Wednesday, he will travel to Moscow to meet with Russian
President Vladimir Putin, the same day negotiators from the P5+1 and Iran will
again be meeting in Geneva for talks, and on Friday, US Secretary of State John
Kerry is scheduled to arrive here for additional talks.
admitted on Sunday to differences with the US on Iran, telling the cabinet that
there can be disagreements even between the best of friends, “especially when it
comes to our future and our fate.”
Netanyahu told the cabinet at its
weekly meeting it was his responsibility as prime minister to look out for the
vital interests of the country, when faced “with a bad agreement. I hope that we
will be able to convince our friends to put forward a much better agreement, and
that is possible.”
The Iranians are under severe economic pressure, and a
continuation of that pressure could lead to a better result, he said.
believe that many in the region, and outside of it, agree with this,” he
Differences between the US and Israel over Iran and the Palestinian
issue came to the fore during Kerry’s last visit here some two weeks
Netanyahu said Kerry is coming here to push forward the negotiations
with the Palestinians, but that the talks will also focus on the Iranian
negotiations.Amid a public strain between Jerusalem and Washington
Netanyahu stressed that Kerry “is an old friend of mine, and he is also a friend