Netanyahu: 'Dangerous' Iran Deal Is 'Historic Mistake'

Sunday, 24 Nov 2013 06:34 AM

By Elliot Jager

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A "dangerous" and "historic mistake" was how Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu characterized the deal reached in Geneva between six world powers, the so-called P5+1 – the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Russia, and China, facilitated by the European Union – and Iran.

Netanyahu told the Israeli cabinet Sunday that Jerusalem was not bound by the agreement which legitimizes Iranian nuclear enrichment, according to Israel Radio.

Saying that Iran was committed to Israel's destruction and that the Jewish state has the right to defend itself, Netanyahu reiterated that Jerusalem would not stand by as Iran gains nuclear weapons capability.
Israel's scathing reaction is tied to the fact that the agreement does not force Iran to stop enriching uranium, or to dismantle any of its existing centrifuges, or agree to a completely unrestricted inspection regime by the International Atomic Energy Agency, Israeli media are reporting.

Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Jerusalem will need to reevaluate anew its options regarding the Iranian nuclear threat.

"We need to take our own fateful decisions, independently, to protect our own future," he told Israel Radio.

President Barack Obama will speak to Netanyahu later today, Israel Radio reported.

Lieberman told Israel Radio it is hard to say "good morning" in Jerusalem today.

"We have come to a new situation. All options remains on table. Agreement or no agreement," Lieberman said.

"Iran has achieved a great diplomatic victory," Lieberman said.
Lieberman said the deal does not require the dissolution of Iran's nuclear program. It legitimizes Teheran's ability to enrich. It is worse than the chemical weapons deal with Syria since there is not even a pretense of removing uranium now in Iran.

"This is not just Israel's worry but also troubles the Arab world," he said.
The deal will impel other countries in the region pursue nuclear weapons, he said.

The five percent agreed cap on levels of enrichment is irrelevant, Lieberman said implying that the Iranians already had sufficient enriched uranium to build several nuclear weapons.

As for disappointment with Washington, Lieberman said that the U.S. is dealing with many challenges abroad and preoccupied with its domestic problems – he mentioned Obamacare in particular.

"They have no shortage of problems," he said.

The U.S. is our ally, Lieberman said. "But we need to open up efforts to develop other options. We have no alternative to the U.S. but in addition – not instead – to Washington we need to pursue other alliances," said Lieberman.

The Israeli foreign minister said there is no need to enter into a public spat with the Washington.

"Its interests are not identical to Israel's," he said.

Netanyahu had the full backing of his cabinet on the Iran issue.
Minister of Strategic Affairs Yuval Steinitz said Jerusalem cannot take part in the international celebrations over this agreement.

"This remains a bad deal," Steinitz said, according to Israel Radio.
"The agreement will not eliminate Tehran's commitment to nuclear nonproliferation," he said.

Israel will continue to work with the U.S. and its allies for a better [long term] deal, he said.

Steinitz said the international community was going down a similar path that ultimately allowed North Korea to develop its nuclear program.
It brings Iran closer to its goal of nuclear weapons, he said.

Israel's Finance Minister Yair Lapid – whose centrist Yesh Atid party is critical to Netanyahu's coalition government – also weighed in to say that the deal was a "bad one."

"Netanyahu did everything he could. We all were and are behind him on this issue. An agreement took shape that is not good and it isn't the kind we wanted. We need to make sure that this is an interim phase and that the final agreement is better," he told Israel's Channel 2.

Minister of Industry Naftali Bennett, of the rightist Jewish Home Party, said that Israel cannot be bound by this "very bad deal," according to Israel Radio.

"This bad deal gives Iran exactly what it wanted: a significant easing of the sanctions while retaining the most significant parts of its nuclear program.

"If a nuclear suitcase blows up five years from now in New York or Madrid, it will be because of the deal that was signed this morning.

"There is still a long campaign ahead of us. We will continue to act in every possible way.

"It is important that the world knows: Israel will not be committed to a deal that endangers it's very existence." Bennett said in a Facebook  posting.

Of senior cabinet ministers only the left-leaning Justice Minister Tzipi Livni struck a mildly positive tone telling Army Radio that hopes now should be focused on the next round of talks with Iran to ensure that it does not go nuclear.

Meanwhile, Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif declared that his country's "right to enrichment" has been recognized in an accord between Iran and the six world powers, according to Iran's PressTV.

Enrichment will continue and "will be a part of any agreement now and in the future," Zarif said.

He said no country – implying Israel and Iran's Arab neighbors – needed to be concerned.

"We are trying to move forward with the international community," he added. "They must accept fact that threat of war is illegal. War is unnecessary, imprudent and illegal. If we can prevent that, it is an accomplishment. The force option is no longer on the table," he said according to The Jerusalem Post.

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