News / Middle East

    Israel Rejects Proposed Iran Nuclear Deal

    FILE - Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem. Oct. 27, 2013.
    FILE - Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem. Oct. 27, 2013.
    Reuters
    Israel's worst fears will be realized if a proposed deal by world powers goes ahead with Tehran, sharply curtailing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu options in his campaign against Iran's contested nuclear program.
     
    The possible accord might not only tie Israel's hand in any future military action against Iran, but it could also have an unexpected knock-on effect and stymie U.S.-brokered negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
     
    In a bitter outburst, Netanyahu denounced on Friday the contours of an Iranian agreement leaked to the media, once again putting himself in direct conflict with Washington.
     
    “This is a very bad deal and Israel utterly rejects it,” Netanyahu said as he headed into his third round of talks in just 48 hours with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
     
    “Israel will do everything it needs to do to defend itself and to defend the security of its people,” he told reporters.
     
    Tellingly, Kerry did not appear in public with the Israeli leader on Friday and instead flew off in silence to Geneva to join talks between Iran and six world powers, including Russia, China and the European Union.
     
    Despite his veiled threat, Netanyahu would find it almost impossible to launch an attack on Iran should it clinch an initial deal to relax tough economic sanctions in return for a partial pullback of its large nuclear program.
     
    “I can understand why Netanyahu is so furious,” said Giora Eiland, a former Israeli national security adviser.
     
    “A unilateral military option would have no real chance now. Not because we can't do it, but because it would be seen as moving against the whole international community,” he told Reuters. “That is something Israel cannot afford.”
     
    Many Western experts believe Iran is seeking to build an atomic bomb, something that Israel views as an existential threat. Iran says its nuclear program is for civilian needs.
     
    "Worst nightmare"
     
    Israel has long feared that world powers would not back its demand for a full dismantlement of Iran's enrichment facilities before any rollback of sanctions. It has argued that this approach is the only way to ensure Tehran never builds a bomb.
     
    “Netanyahu's worst nightmare is about to come true,” said Ehud Yaari, an Israel-based fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “This is not just Netanyahu. This is the position of everyone in the Israeli security establishment.”
     
    The Israeli leader has often had sour ties with Washington, clashing repeatedly during U.S. President Barack Obama's first term in office over Iran and the Palestinian peace process.
     
    Relations appeared to improve following Obama's re-election last year. The U.S. president paid a successful visit to Israel in March and peace talks with the Palestinians resumed in July.
     
    But Kerry's visit has laid bare the tensions once more and one senior Israeli official, who declined to be named, said Netanyahu might be tempted to use his influence at the U.S. Congress to try to temper the brewing Iran deal.
     
    Congress, which gave the right-wing Netanyahu almost 30 standing ovations when he addressed it in 2011, has already threatened to pursue tough new sanctions against Iran, despite the on-going talks in Geneva -- music to Israel's ears.
     
    Asked whether Israel would now use its leverage in Congress, the senior Israeli official said: “That could well be.” He added: “It would be an exaggeration to call this a major crisis. There's a disagreement here. It's a crisis that we'll find a way through.”
     
    Iran was not the sole bone of contention this week. Kerry also stirred discontent in the government by criticizing Jewish settlement building in the occupied Palestinian territories and warning of bloodshed if Israel failed to secure a deal.
     
    Vowing not buckle over Iran, Netanyahu also said on Friday he would not yield over the Palestinians. “I think the pressure has to be put where it belongs, that is on the Palestinians who refuse to budge,” he told reporters.
     
    Eiland, who headed Israel's National Security Council from 2003-2006, said the United States had “several times in the past” implicitly offered to resolve the Iranian problem in return for Israeli flexibility on the Palestinian conflict.
     
    “I think Netanyahu wants to make it very clear that they should not expect us to be more flexible with the Palestinians because they have not solved the Iranian issue,” he said.
     
    As anger mounted in Netanyahu's inner circle over the expected Iran deal, some influential voices urged caution, pointing to the fact the agreement under consideration was just a first step that would leave most sanctions still in place.
     
    “[Israel] needs to influence the talks but the question is whether more influence can be brought to bear through adopting extreme positions or through heart to heart talks that create trust,” Amos Yadlin, head of Israel's Institute for National Security Studies, told Israel radio.
     
    “There needs to be a scrutiny of before determining whether the 'holy of holies' was destroyed today.”

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    Comments page of 2
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    by: Chidi Chikezie from: Abia State, Nigeria
    November 09, 2013 5:06 AM
    Threat, is not a rational dimension to resolve disagreement, over Iran's nuclear development. Let Isreal, Iran,and the U.N, dialogue to jettison, the tension. We need peace in the world not more wars.

    by: Schopenhauer from: USA
    November 09, 2013 3:21 AM
    Poor Bebe. For once, even a vigorous wag of the Isreali Government's tail did not provoke a lockstep response by the dog. Instead, the latter stood on the high moral ground and did not budge. So the pugnacious little bully responded with an oral tantrum, presumptively seizing what he thought was the high moral ground and, instead, exposing himself and his government as hypocrites who arrogantly assume that they are the only sovereign country in the region that merits the world's trust to own a vast arsenal of WMD and that they, by some stroke of an eternal pen, have been appointed to determine whether any other should be permitted access to them. In reality, as the ultra-orthodox extreme right wing continues its quest to obtain majority status through its extraordinarily high fertility compared to non-sectarian moderates in Israel, the international community should be focusing its concern on how to eliminate Israel's WMD arsenal
    Before those mad and irrational ultra-orthodox right wingers take over control of the government through majority rule. That prospect is much more frightening than Iran achieving nuclear capacity and establishing a tactical counter-balance in the region. Bebe and his ilk cannot countenance an equal playing field that would impose limits on their arrogant presumption that they and only they are to be trusted with access to such weapons.

    by: jonathon from: boston
    November 08, 2013 8:41 PM
    Obama I a train wreck. Israel should do what they need to and Congress will be there to do the right thing. I don't see how Obama could be causing any more problem internationally breaking trust and relationships if he focused all his attention on doing it.
    Seriously, the one nation we should be supporting above all others and he is ignoring them and meanwhile letting a country that would just assume see us dead off the hook.
    Do what you need to Israel. You should have done it a long time ago. The only thing you ever did wrong was trust Obama. Obama isn't America though and he'll be back in Chicago soon enough.

    by: Patriot1776 from: Northeast
    November 08, 2013 7:56 PM
    Once again we see how each country has its own interests which may or may not coincide with its allies. Do we let France or the UK dictate to us what our interests should be? Israel has been a long time ally of the US but we do not always agree or should we. Our policies need to be our own.

    by: Vahid from: Seattle
    November 08, 2013 7:00 PM
    Dr. Barnard, is it fair to assume only a few are smart enough to master technology. I'm not in favor of nukes and WMD rather in fair of peace. Once we travel around the world we find how smart others maybe in contrast to our premature opinions fed by media. I hope there be a day that no one would have nukes of WMD. There is absolutely no reason to need one. Logic is strong and can prevail, avoid unnecessary conflicts.

    by: no name from: Iran
    November 08, 2013 4:12 PM
    I would like to say to Dr Barnard with all my respect that she has no idea what it means to live under a theocratic fascism. IRGC can come to your home anytime of night or day arrest all your family and subject them to such brutal torture that honored life is not worth living anymore. You don't understand what it is here. America was our last hope for freedom, now we are just a broken nation

    by: Eric L from: Chicago, IL USA
    November 08, 2013 3:18 PM
    What is wrong with this American Administration? Is Obama as gullible as he makes the Americans look? (I fear the answer is yes!) Can the world make it to 2014 with a congress to put the irrational White House in check? Sadly, the world will have to wait until 2016 for this lame duck president to leave and genuine hope restored to the world.
    In Response

    by: jb1111 from: USA
    November 08, 2013 3:41 PM


    Totally agree, Eric of Chicago!!

    Just a repeat of North Korea.

    Iran is laughing at us.

    by: joe mama from: Jerusalem
    November 08, 2013 3:06 PM
    "Israel Rejects Proposed "

    Does not matter what netYahoo says. He should go to war with iran WITHOUT big brother leading the way.

    Why does he not do something about it????
    He does not ask for permission when he assasinates innocent civilian Palestinians
    In Response

    by: Godwin from: Nigeria
    November 09, 2013 5:49 AM
    joe mama from: Jerusalem, I assure you Israel will not let this lie low, with or without a big brother. Read the pulse in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and you will know that the die is cast. There is after all no real big brother in USA when Obama is president, and Israel is as lonely with USA as it is in the Middle East surrounded by aggressive islamist Arabs. And your bet is Israel can do it all alone, the time is SOON.

    by: dtschuk from: Tennessee
    November 08, 2013 3:00 PM
    Israel Rejects Proposed Iran Nuclear Deal
    -----------------------------------------------------------
    I had no idea we had to submit proposals to Netenyahoo for approval, though the GOP conservatives will probably have to consult with Bebe for directions on how to vote on any proposals.

    by: Anonymous
    November 08, 2013 3:00 PM
    Let the Jewish state AND the Christian zionist do their own dirty work.
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