U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "needs to recognize that no agreement" with Iran has been reached and his opposition is premature. "The time to oppose [a deal] is when you see what it is," Kerry said to reporters in Abu Dhabi.
Kerry called off making a statement before the meeting in an attempt to avoid a public confrontation. But Netanyahu decided to go ahead with a statement on his own, in which he slammed a possible agreement between Iran and the six world powers.
Iran got "the deal of the century and the international community got a bad deal," Netanyahu told reporters. "Israel utterly rejects it and many in the region share my opinion, whether or not they express that publicly. Israel is not obliged by this agreement and Israel will do everything it needs to do to defend itself and the security of its people."
In an address to the annual General Assembly of Jewish Federations of North America on Sunday in Jerusalem, Netanyahu made a direct appeal for Jews worldwide to join him in speaking out against the deal. It is a "bad and dangerous deal" that threatens Israel’s survival and “on matters of Jewish survival, I will not be silenced,” Netanyahu said.
Kerry also said that the major powers were unified on Saturday when the proposal was presented to the Iranians. He said "The French signed off on it, we signed off on it." But he said that Iran wasn't able to accept the deal "at the particular moment."
Speaking at General Assembly Monday, Israeli President Shimon Peres and United States Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro expressed confidence in the U.S.’s determination to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.
Peres downplayed reports of divisions between the U.S. and Israel regarding recent negotiations over the Iranian nuclear program, and expressed confidence in the U.S.’s handling of the issue.
“The United States is our best friend, and the friendship of the United States to us is deep and meaningful,” Peres said. “[Obama] committed himself not to permit the Iranians to become a nuclear power, not just for the sake of Israel but for the sake of humanity.”
Addressing a plenary session Monday morning, Shapiro stressed the United States’ and President Obama’s commitment to Israel’s security, calling the alliance between the two countries “as close as it has ever been.” He said that both countries share the goal of stopping Iran’s nuclear program.
“There is no greater priority for the United States and Israel than preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon,” Shapiro said. “On this issue the United Stated and Israel share an identical objective. [Obama] will not permit Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon, period.”
Peres’ and Shapiro’s comments contrast with recent speeches by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in which he called a recent deal proposed by the U.S. regarding Iran’s nuclear program “a bad deal.”
“What is being proposed now is a deal in which Iran retains all of that capacity” to build a nuclear weapon, Netanyahu told the G.A. Sunday. “Not one centrifuge is dismantled; not one. Iran gets to keep tons of low enriched uranium.”
The next round of nuclear talks in Geneva will resume on November 20.
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