Netanyahu to US Jewish Audience: Iran Deal Supporters Are Squashing Debate
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused the Obama administration and other supporters of the Iran nuclear deal on Tuesday of squashing debate, especially as the public’s knowledge of the agreement has expanded.
Saying the Jewish people were in a historic position to loudly oppose an existential threat such as the one posed by Iran, whose military and proxies “on three borders” target every major Israeli city, Netanyahu called on the U.S. Jewish community in a conference call to oppose the current deal with Iran, which Congress must vote on by September.
Netanyahu struck back at U.S. officials who said opponents of the deal had provided no alternatives to the current plan and simply wanted war.
The Israeli prime minister said he offered dismantling Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for dismantling the sanctions regime, and then he had suggested during his controversial speech to Congress earlier this year significantly rolling back Iran’s program and conditioning the lifting of sanctions on Iran’s reversing its expansionist policy in the Middle East, after the U.S. “backed off” the first option.
He said “Israel wants peace,” questioning why many U.S. officials believed that Israel and others opposed to the deal thought war was the only other option. He said the nuclear deal with Iran paved the way for Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon, either by following its provisions or violating them, and he warned that the deal would likely set off an arms race in the world’s “most volatile” region.
Netanyahu’s message to U.S. Jews was ultimately the same as it has been since the deal was announced: help kill the deal in Congress. Others in Israel — such as some former top security officials in an full-page ad in Haaretz on Tuesday — have called on the prime minister to accept the fate of the Iran deal (namely that it is destined to go through) and work toward mending fences with the U.S. administration.
Recent polls have indicated that the more people feel they know about the Iran deal, the higher the rate of disapproval. Senior Obama administration officials have testified twice before Congress and headed a significant media campaign to garner public support.