Hanegbi: Critics of PM’s Iran strategy are playing politics

Coalition chairman calls critics in opposition “provocateurs who only deal in small, petty and cynical politics in order to brand themselves."

Tzachi Hanegbi (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Tzachi Hanegbi
Opposition MKs criticizing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s strategy to prevent a nuclear Iran are being cynical rather than uniting to fight for Israel’s interests, coalition chairman Tzachi Hanegbi (Likud) said on Saturday.
“Instead of maintaining a united Israeli front against the enormous concessions to Iran, whose leadership calls for our destruction to this day, some are choosing instead to attack Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who more than any other leader mobilized the world to heavily sanction Iran, which brought them to the negotiating table, and set a redline for Iran which they have yet to cross and leads additional steps preventing Iran from arming itself with nuclear weapons,” Hanegbi said.
The coalition chairman called the critics in the opposition “provocateurs who only deal in small, petty and cynical politics in order to brand themselves,” and said they should ask themselves what they did to help prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons.
“Those who didn’t contribute anything should at least not hurt the efforts,” he said.
Hanegbi’s comments came after Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid called to form a national commission of inquiry on how the prime minister handled the Iranian issue.
Lapid also said he plans to ask the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, which is led by Hanegbi, to examine the failures of Netanyahu’s foreign policy and release to the public a report on the committee’s findings.
“What Netanyahu did is the biggest failure of Israel’s foreign policy since the establishment of the state. For years, preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon was the center of our foreign policy,” Lapid said. “It is such a big failure that not only the US, but also Russia, German, France, the EU and China’s doors were all closed to us.
“In the moment of truth, the moment when we had to prevent this agreement, no one was willing to listen to Netanyahu and no one was willing to talk to Netanyahu,” he said.
Though the Zionist Union’s official position is to stand with Netanyahu on the issue, MK Shelly Yacimovich also criticized the prime minister, as well as those who say that doing so is inappropriate.
Yacimovich’s weekly headline to supporters began with the title: “Who needs a certificate of patriotism from Netanyahu?” “Netanyahu’s Iran strategy was a resounding failure and I do not identify with [Zionist Union leaders Isaac] Herzog and [Tzipi] Livni’s approach to stand at Netanyahu’s right-hand unconditionally and strengthen the same strategy that brought us here. It is really the time to be a strong opposition,” Yacimovich wrote.
“Netanyahu’s head-to-head opposition to US President Barack Obama, his blatant intervention in American politics, his open and clear connection to Republicans, his speech to Congress [in March] that was planned behind the White House’s back – all were total failures.”
Yacimovich added that she knows some see supporting Netanyahu at this time as the patriotic thing to do, but she thinks patriotism is doing the right thing for the country, and not working for the prime minister when he is making a serious mistake.
“It is unnecessary... to meet Netanyahu’s mistaken and populist standards for who is a patriot...
He doesn’t get to give us grades,” she said.
Meanwhile, Meretz chairwoman Zehava Gal-On submitted a motion to form a parliamentary commission of inquiry on the government’s policy in relation to Iran and deteriorating ties between Israel and the US.
“I do not buy the prime minister’s claim that it would be better to let Iran get the bomb without an agreement than to have this agreement. We must give the agreement a chance, as opposed to Netanyahu’s threats and fear-mongering,” she said.