A day after implementation of the Iran nuclear deal went into effect, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday Israel's policy toward Iran remains the same: it will not let the Islamic Republic obtain nuclear weapons.
Speaking at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said that Israel will continue to closely monitor Iran's compliance with with its international agreements regarding the nuclear deal, its ballistic missiles and involvement in terrorism. “The international community must take sharp and aggressive sanctions on every infraction,” he said.
Netanyahu, who fought an ultimately losing battle against the deal for years – including going toe-to-toe against US President Barack Obama over the matter – said that without Israel leading the fight to impose crippling economic sanctions on Tehran, “Iran would have had nuclear arms a long time ago.”
The bulk of those sanctions have now been removed.
“Israel's position was, and remains just as it was: not to allow Iran to get nuclear weapons,” Netanyahu stressed. He added that it is “clear” that Iran will now have more resources to turn to in its “terrorist and aggressive activities in the region and the world.” But, he added, “Israel is prepared to deal with every threat.”
Netanyahu noted that Israel is currently in the midst of concluding a new 10-year Memorandum of Understanding with the US which will govern the level of US military aid to Israel over the next decade. He hinted that this was part of the deterrence architecture being built to counter Iran, saying that the MoU is “important to rebuff the threats in the region, first and foremost – of course – from the Iranians.”
Under the current 10-year MoU, which expires next year, Israel received some $3 billion in annual military aid from the US, a figure now expected to rise.
Netanyahu also spoke again at the opening of the cabinet meeting against Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom’
s comment last week that an investigation should be made into “extrajudicial killings” of Palestinians during the current wave of terrorism.
Calling her comments “absurd” and a “complete distortion,” he referenced an incident that happened in Sweden on October 10, when a man with a sword killed three people before being killed by Swedish security forces. He asked whether that, too, could be called “extrajudicial killing” that needed to be investigated in the light of international law.
Netanyahu said that he hoped this type of double standard does not spill over into the meeting of EU foreign ministers on Monday expected to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian issue.
“Attacks on Israel, imbalance toward Israel, will not help the EU be a partner in the discussions on the Middle East,” he said. “Beyond that, it is also inappropriate, not right, and we will not accept it.”