Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gives interview to BBC Persian.
(photo credit: HAIM ZACH/GPO)
A week after his address to Congress, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that “there are more and more voices, especially in the US, but also in other places” supporting Israel’s opposition to the emerging Iran deal.
“The agreement being formulated between the major powers and Iran gives a clear path to Iran to achieve a nuclear bomb, nuclear bombs,” Netanyahu said during a visit to the Judea and Samaria Division headquarters.
“A better agreement must be sought.”
The prime minister did not relate to the controversy surrounding the letter by 47 Republican senators to the Iranian leadership warning that an agreement that is not brought to Congress may not be binding once US President Barack Obama leaves office on January 20, 2017. The Prime Minister’s Office has also been completely silent on this matter. The letter has infuriated the White House and led the Iranians to question whether the Americans are “trustworthy.”
Netanyahu did say that he hoped more “realistic views” about Iran and its nuclear program will “receive tangible expression in the negotiations.”
He added that Israel was closely monitoring the developments, and would continue to speak out on an issue “that is so fateful for the future of the State of Israel.”
Amos Yadlin, the Zionist Union’s candidate for defense minister, termed Netanyahu’s comments disingenuous, saying that because of the way the prime minister has injected partisanship into the Iranian debate, Congress lost the veto-proof bipartisan majority it once had to impose greater sanctions on Iran.
Yadlin, in an Israel Radio interview, said there were two ways for Israel – which is not in the negotiating room between the world powers and Iran – to deal with the accord being negotiated.
The first is to deliver speeches, he said in reference to Netanyahu, but that doesn’t influence anything and actually hurts efforts to prevent an agreement.
The other way, he suggested, is to “sit with our American friends and allies” and talk not only about what a bad agreement is, but also about what actions will be taken automatically if the Iranians infringe it.
Yadlin, a former head of military intelligence, noted that both Obama and US Secretary of State John Kerry have said that no agreement is better than a bad agreement, but that because of the friction in ties between Israel and the US, the two countries have not clarified what a “bad deal” is.
He said Israel and the US should reach an agreement between them on what steps should be implemented in the event the Iranians break the agreement.
These steps should include much stronger sanctions than those that are in place today, as well as the possibility of military action.
Earlier in the day, at the New-Tech conference on groundbreaking technological innovation in the military field, Yadlin said, “We must develop a parallel agreement in which we, along with the Americans, establish a course of action to be taken if the Iranians violate the agreement and return to the nuclear threshold.”
He said this pact “must clarify that if the Iranians violate the agreement, Israel will be authorized to do things that, in the past, the United States did not support, such as a military assault.”
Speaking at the annual conference of the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, a think tank Yadlin headed until he jumped into politics, Ross said, “You cannot wait until you face the violations and decide what it [the consequences] will be. You actually should work that out now.
“There should be legislation, worked out with the Hill in advance, which says if we catch them with the following kinds of violations, then the implication is that we are going to take out those facilities.” he said.
This is something that would deter the Iranians and go a long way toward addressing one of Israel’s main concerns, Ross said.