Obama tells Netanyahu: Israel has good reason to be skeptical about Iran's intentions
President calls Netanyahu, says he wants Israel, U.S. to begin consultations over final nuclear agreement with Islamic Republic. PM tells reporters: When our allies are mistaken, it is my duty to say so.
According the White House, Obama told Netanyahu that he wants Israel and the U.S. to begin consultations with regard to a permanent agreement with Iran.
"The two leaders reaffirmed their shared goal of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon," the statement read. "The president noted that the P5+1 will use the months ahead to pursue a lasting, peaceful, and comprehensive solution that would resolve the international community’s concerns regarding Iran’s nuclear program.
"… the president told the prime minister that he wants the United States and Israel to begin consultations immediately regarding our efforts to negotiate a comprehensive solution," the statement continued. "The president underscored that the United States will remain firm in our commitment to Israel, which has good reason to be skeptical about Iran’s intentions."
Earlier, Netanyahu had delivered a short statement in Hebrew and English. He criticized the United States and the other powers taking part in the talks with Iran.
“Israel has a lot of friends and allies but when they are mistaken it is my duty and obligation to say so,” he said.
At Sunday’s weekly cabinet meeting Netanyahu asked the ministers to toe the line with regard to opposition to the agreement with Iran. After the meeting, the prime minister held marathon sessions with his advisers and senior ministers to assess the agreement and its implications. Senior American, British and French officials are expected to arrive in Israel this week to discuss the agreement with their Israeli counterparts. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to come to Israel at the end of the week or the beginning of next week.
The conversation between Netanyahu and Obama came after a day in which almost all the ministers harshly attacked the accord with Iran and the six world powers. Senior figures in Netanyahu’s bureau called an early morning press briefing to stress that this was a “bad agreement.”
Later, at the beginning of the cabinet meeting, the background briefings became an assault by Netanyahu on the pact in front of the cameras. “What was achieved last night in Geneva is not a historic agreement; it is a historic mistake,” he said. “Today the world has become a much more dangerous place,” Netanyahu maintained, saying Iran had received permission to continue enriching uranium, and that the sanctions had been diminished in exchange for Iran “taking only cosmetic steps.”
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon also harshly criticized the Western powers over the agreement, calling it an “agreement of surrender” to the “Iranian smile offensive.” Ya’alon said that short-term considerations and lack of determination by the West allowed the Iranian regime to gain legitimacy to continue pursuing a military nuclear program, while its international isolation had been lifted and its economy was being strengthening.
The only senior Israeli officials who spoke in a different tone were President Shimon Peres, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Meretz chairwoman Zahava Gal-On. In veiled criticism of Netanyahu, Peres said the agreement was temporary and the deal could be “judged by results, not words.” Livni said the coming weeks should be devoted to “strengthening the strategic alliance with the United States.”