Peres and Peri warn: Israel must be careful not to exacerbate row with US over Iran

Peri says that he would “probably vote in favor” of a military strike against Iran if all other possibilities had been exhausted.

Yaakov Peri 370 (photo credit: Knesset)
Yaakov Peri 370
(photo credit: Knesset)
President Shimon Peres urged Israelis on Friday to show respect for the US, seeking to soothe relations with the country’s most powerful ally that have been strained over Iran.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has condemned a proposal, endorsed by Washington, to reduce sanctions if Iran suspends parts of its nuclear program.
Several ministers have also criticized Washington, prompting Peres to speak out.
“We must not underestimate the importance of this friendship. There can be disagreements, but they must be conducted with a view to the true depth of the situation,” Peres said in comments released by his office.
“If we have disagreements we should voice them, but we should remember that the Americans also know a thing or two. We are not the only ones,” he said.
Trade and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, a member of the security cabinet, flew to Washington last week to urge members of Congress to reject the proposed Iran deal.
“I think more and more members of the House and Senate understand now...that the deal being formed is a deal that removes the sanctions without dismantling the Iranian nuclear machine,” Bennett told Israel Radio on Friday.
Analysts have warned Netanyahu not to pit the Congress against the US president, and Peres made a point of praising Obama’s efforts on behalf of Israel.
“There has not been an Israeli request that the Obama administration has not responded to,” he said.
The government was in favor of a diplomatic solution to end the dispute with Iran, Science, Technology and Space Minister Yaakov Peri insisted, though he warned of the consequences of allowing the row with Washington to deteriorate further.
“We have differences [with the US], but it’s not a serious crisis,” Peri said in a town hall meeting in Tel Aviv.
“Nonetheless, one cannot discount the possibility that we’ll reach that point.
“The sanctions imposed on Iran were what pressured its leadership to come to the negotiating table with the West,” Peri, a former head of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Service), said.
“The prime minister says – I don’t support him on this count – that we need to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and that sanctions should be kept in place until that goal is achieved.
“Still, we have no bigger friend than the US, and we must be careful not to exacerbate the crisis because it will have consequences on other issues that are fateful to the country’s future.”
Peri said that he would “probably vote in favor” of a military strike against Iran if it came before the cabinet and it became apparent that all other possibilities had been exhausted.
Meretz chairwoman Zehava Gal-On on Saturday accused Netanyahu of trying to sabotage American diplomatic efforts to roll back the Iranian nuclear program.
“The prime minister isn’t opposed, as he wrote on his Facebook page, to ‘a bad agreement with Iran,’” Gal- On said. “He’s against any agreement that will be reached with Iran in the direct negotiations between Iran and the US.
“It is in Israel’s interest to support the American goal of preventing Iran from attaining nuclear weapons through diplomatic means that will include supervision and strict enforcement [of measures] that will prevent it from attaining nuclear weapons,” she said.
“It cannot be done by means of warmongering.”