News / Middle East

Netanyahu Ally Urges More Cautious Tone With US

FILE - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and Finance Minister Yair Lapid smile during a joint news conference in Jerusalem, July 2013.
FILE - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and Finance Minister Yair Lapid smile during a joint news conference in Jerusalem, July 2013.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should take the heat out of his dispute with U.S. President Barack Obama, his top coalition partner said on Tuesday, warning that the spat over Iran was not helping Israel.

Relations between Israel and Washington, traditionally the closest of allies, have soured over the past month with Netanyahu openly criticizing Obama for backing the big powers' interim deal with Iran meant to curb its nuclear activities.

Some analysts believe U.S.-Israeli ties have deteriorated to their worst point in more than 20 years, unsettling the Jewish state which relies heavily on military and diplomatic support from Washington.

“I think we have to lower the flames with the Americans,” said Finance Minister Yair Lapid, who heads the second largest party in the Israeli government. “This confrontation isn't good and it also doesn't serve our goal,” he told Army radio.

U.S. officials have sought to calm Israeli jitters, saying they will push for a comprehensive deal with the Iranians at the next round of negotiations, repeating past pledges that Washington will not let Tehran develop an atomic bomb.

Lapid said he agreed the Iran interim accord was not good, backing the generally held view in Israel that it let Tehran off the hook just as economic sanctions were hitting hard, but said Netanyahu needed to air his frustrations in private.

“This is the best way to do it and so it has always been. You sit behind closed doors and speak about it quietly,” he said, echoing comments made by opposition politicians.

Israel fears Iran is trying to develop atomic bombs, something Tehran denies, and has threatened to attack the Islamist state if it concludes that diplomacy and sanctions cannot bring about a dismantling of its atomic program.

Israel is widely presumed to have the Middle East's only nuclear arsenal. Western powers suspect Iran has sought to develop the means to produce nuclear weapons.

Iran says it is enriching uranium solely for future civilian atomic energy and to make isotopes for medicine.

A poll published late Monday by the Tel Aviv University-Israel Democracy Institute Peace Index showed that 77 percent of Israelis do not believe the world powers' deal will lead to the end of what they see as Iran's nuclear weapons program.

Seventy-one percent of Israelis thought the United States was still their closest ally, although 49 percent said Israel needed to find new partners to reduce their dependence on Washington.

Inner circle

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was due to arrive in Israel on Wednesday for yet another round of talks centered on Iran and also faltering Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.

A diplomatic source said Kerry and Netanyahu had a furious discussion at their last meeting in Israel on Nov. 8, with advisers from both sides asked to leave the room.

There is little sign that the conversation will be much warmer this time around.

An Israeli watchdog, Peace Now, reported more plans for Jewish settlement building in occupied West Bank territory - which Palestinians seek as part of a future state - ahead of Kerry's visit.

A spokesman for the group said on Tuesday Israel had since July advanced plans for 3,000 new settler homes and that in all 8,500 were in “various stages of construction” since March.

At least two local newspapers published articles on Tuesday quoting Israeli officials lambasting Obama's inner circle and defending Netanyahu's outspoken handling of the Iran issue.

The Israel Hayom daily, which is very close to Netanyahu's rightist political camp, quoted an official in his office comparing the current situation with the 1930s, when Jews warned of the risk posed by Nazi Germany.

“Seventy-five years ago, when there was no [Israeli] state, the Jews tried to talk with American President Roosevelt behind closed doors, and that did not really help the Jews of Europe,” the unnamed official was quoted as saying.

Netanyahu has compared the dispute with Iran to the build-up to World War II, with some of his supporters putting the recent Geneva accord on a par with the 1938 Munich Agreement, when Britain and France tried to avoid conflict with Germany.

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Comment Sorting
by: Godwin from: Nigeria
December 04, 2013 8:22 AM
Caution to the winds. Obama has not made any reservation in showing his dislike for Israel, so what is the caution for? Like play, Iran builds and possesses nuclear warhead and all you tell Israel is 'we are working on something to ensure Iran does not possess nuclear weapon'. In the face of a drought of intelligence - the CIA is not as effective as we thought it was, and Turkey has given away Israel's troop working inside of Iran whose report we had relied before now - how can anyone be sure now what Iran is going to do with the deal handed it on a platta of gold?

There are things that can be left to diplomacy, not matters of life and death - as Iran's nuclear deal portends to Israel. Like Turkey who gave away Israel's intelligence network inside Iran, the USA should be seen in the light of the betrayal, of conceding to Iran the capability to enrich nuclear materials inside Iran wherein everyone understands Iran is not to be trusted with issues of religion, the Resistance and the Liberation of Palestine, and so can do anything to wipe Israel out - if it can afford it.

Especially as a gift to the Arab and islamist world, to claim regional leadership, Iran can do anything with the nuclear program, topmost of it is remove Israel from the world map. Already we see how Iran is going about trying to regain the attention of Arab countries in the region. This stage is set when USA and others conceded uranium et al enrichment to Iran. And why not speak out against it; is it until Israel has been wiped out that Netanyahu will talk to Obama whose administrative lapses, albeit a deliberate miscalculation, let the cat out of the bag? There is no caution needed here, because more than in the second world war, Israel is again confronted with a struggle for sustenance and liberation - an existential threat - no thanks to USA who empowered Iran to pursue such destructive program.

by: JohnWV from: USA
December 04, 2013 6:14 AM
In America disapproval of Israeli or Jewish doings begets accusation of antisemitism, of racism. THIS IS NO ACCIDENT. It is a cunningly planned and successfully accomplished achievement. Our news media is mostly Jewish owned and blatantly Israel/Jew biased. Our electoral process has been corrupted by AIPAC, the Jewish Conference of Presidents and enormous amounts of Jewish money. Israel has occupied not just Palestine, but America too.

The Wall Street felons remaining unpunished, AIPAC actually writing congressional legislation, and lack of treason indictments attest to the depth of the occupation. The Jewish state instigated all our Mideast wars and benefited from all. None were in American interests, yet we did the dying and suffered the Great Recession. Our diminished America is now being overthrown from within and transformed into a world dominating racist ultra power, the JEWISH STATE OF AMERICA.

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