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December 5, 2013 10:27 am

Netanyahu to Kerry: Steps Must be Taken to Prevent Further Erosion of Iran Sanctions

avatar by Joshua Levitt

John Kerry and Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo: GPO.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday that “steps must be taken to prevent further erosion of sanctions” against the Iranian regime.

Speaking to reporters after meeting U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Jerusalem, Netanyahu said, “Our discussion this morning focused on two central issues. First and foremost, we discussed the danger to the world posed by Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability.”

“We believe that, in a final deal, unlike the interim deal, it is crucial to bring about a final agreement about the termination of Iran’s military nuclear capability. I have expressed my concern since Geneva that the sanctions would begin to unravel, and I think steps must be taken to prevent further erosion of sanctions.”

The comments came after the U.S. diplomatic community was put on notice on Wednesday by two former Secretaries of State, Henry Kissinger and George Shultz, who made it clear in an Op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal that partial lifting of sanctions against Iran is risky in that the mixed signal being sent to businesses eager to enter the Iranian market would make it nearly possible to ever roll back to the hard-line position held by the U.S. for the past 10 years.

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Kerry responded to Netanyahu with assurances that Israel’s security is paramount: “I can’t emphasize enough that Israel’s security in this negotiation is at the top of our agenda and the United States will do everything in our power to make certain that Iran’s nuclear program, a program of weaponization possibilities, is terminated. We agree on what the goal of the final status agreement ought to be. And in the days and weeks ahead, we will consult very closely and continually with our Israeli friends in order to bring about a comprehensive agreement that can withstand everybody’s test.”

In his comments to Kerry, Netanyahu also addressed the on-going peace talks with the Palestinian Authority, which the present U.S. Secretary of State has spent a tremendous amount of his own political capital pursuing.

Netanyahu said, “Now, on the Palestinian issue, I want to say that Israel is ready for a historic peace, and it’s a peace based on two states for two peoples. It’s a peace that Israel can and must be able to defend by itself with our own forces against any foreseeable threat.”

In between Kerry’s last visit to Jerusalem and today’s meeting, members of the PA negotiating team have quit, while the Israeli community has objected to PA incitement. One rock throwing attack by Arab teenagers, including the son of a Hamas leader, injured a toddler in a car last week, setting a dark tone for the talks.

Netanyahu said, “We don’t need artificial crises. What we need is not grandstanding, but understanding and agreements and that requires hard and serious hard work. I’m fully committed and Israel is fully committed to such an effort and I hope the Palestinians are committed to this goal as well.”

Kerry responded by acknowledging that both he and U.S. President Barack Obama fully understand and endorse the fundamental Israeli negotiating point, that until the PA recognizes the right of the Jewish state to freely exist, no deal would be possible.

“I understand the challenge of security that Israel faces, I understand it very well,” Kerry said. “And I join with President Obama in expressing to the people of Israel our deep, deep commitment to the security of Israel and to the need to find a peace that recognizes Israel as a Jewish state, recognizes Israel as a country that can defend itself, by itself, and that is an important principle with which the Prime Minister and the President and I are in agreement.”

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