Israel slams those slamming it for criticizing Iran deal

Steinitz characterized as “naive” those who believe that sanctions relief that will pour some $150 billion into the Iranian economy will not have an effect on the Middle East.

July 15, 2015 23:00
2 minute read.
Kerry and Zarif in Vienna

Secretary Kerry Poses for a Group Photo With Fellow EU, P5+1 Foreign Ministers and Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif After Reaching Iran Nuclear Deal. (photo credit: STATE DEPARTMENT PHOTO)


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A senior Israeli government official hit back at the foreign ministers of Germany and Britain on Wednesday after they criticized Israel’s sharp rebuke of the nuclear deal concluded with Iran.

“This criticism is coming from people directly involved in making the Vienna agreement, and they feel the need to defend it despite the fact that, as people study the agreement, it becomes clear that it is very problematic and full of holes,” the official said.

British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond slammed Israel's opposition to the deal in a parliamentary debate on Wednesday, saying Israel would hot have been satisfied with any nuclear deal with Iran.

“The question you have to ask yourself is what kind of a deal would have been welcomed in Tel Aviv? The answer, of course, is that Israel doesn’t want any deal with Iran,” he said. “Israel wants a permanent state of stand-off and I don’t believe that’s in the interests of the region. I don’t believe it’s in our interest.”
UK's Hammond: Israel doesn't want any deal with Iran, it wants a permanent state of stand-off

Hammond will be able to make his feelings personally known to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has continuously railed against the accord, when he meets him in Jerusalem on Thursday during a one-day visit to the region.

His criticism followed Tuesday’s remarks by German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, whose country – like Hammond’s – was part of the P5+1 that negotiated the deal.

“This is a responsible deal and Israel should also take a closer look at it and not criticize the agreement in a very coarse way,” he said in a German media interview.

The senior Israeli government official said that Hammond and Steinmeier represent countries “that are eager to pursue their economic interests in Iran.”

The countries most directly affected by the deal, he said – referring to Israel and the Sunni Arab states in the region – are opposed to the agreement. He added that, while Israel has expressed its opposition publicly, the Arab countries are doing so privately.

National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Minister Yuval Steinitz, who has been intensively involved in Israel’s efforts over the last two years to scuttle the type of deal that emerged, said at a press briefing Wednesday that it is Israel’s “right and duty” to speak up against the accord.

Speaking before Hammond’s comments to Britain’s Parliament, he said that as world powers, along with most of the world, were celebrating the accord, Israel was like the character Hans from the famous parable “The Emperor’s New Clothes.”

“We are saying this agreement is naked,” the official said. “There is one little brave country that is warning the world, saying ‘Look, the king is naked, this deal is wrong,’” he added.

Steinitz said the agreement is “extremely relevant to Israel’s future existence – so we cannot keep silent.” He called “naive” those who believe that sanctions relief that will pour $150 billion into the Iranian economy will not have an effect on the Middle East.

Giving this money to Iran, he said, is tantamount to “pouring fire on the burning Middle East, and we will unfortunately see the effect in the next few years.”

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