U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday, in light of the Israeli premier's opposition to the unfolding deal with Iran over its nuclear program.
Speaking at a congressional hearing on the U.S. State Department budget, Kerry said that "anybody running around right now jumping in to say, 'Well we don't like the deal,' or this or that, doesn't know what the deal is." Kerry added, "there is no deal yet, and I caution people to wait and see what these negotiations produce."
Kerry said that he believes he will know soon whether Iran is willing to accept the proposition offered by the world powers. He said that he intends to meet Saudi Arabia's new king, Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud, next week in London, and brief him – as well as foreign ministers from the Gulf – on the progress in the Iran talks.
Kerry's criticism of Netanyahu comes shortly after the Israeli Prime Minister again attacked the deal with Iran. "Unfortunately, the information that I have received over the last few days confirms many of our fears about the developing agreement between the powers and Iran," Netanyahu said. "This agreement, if signed, will allow Iran to become a nuclear threshold state," he added. "Meaning, with the powers' consent, Iran will get a license to develop bombs – and this is a country which openly declares its intention to destroy the state of Israel."
Netanyahu added that the agreement being discussed is a bad deal that puts Israel in danger, and stressed that he intends to do everything possible to prevent its signing. "That is why I will go to Washington to speak before the U.S. Congress, because the U.S. Congress may be the last defense before an agreement between the powers and Iran," he said.
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Bennett: Time to put aside differences
Meanwhile, Habayit Hayehudi leader Naftali Bennett said on Tuesday that he intends to travel to Washington next week to support Netanyahu.
"On the nuclear issue there is no right or left," Bennett said in a statement. "At this time, as Iran nears a nuclear weapon under the auspices of the [world] powers, we don't have time for politics," he said. "I call on all party leaders to put aside differences and join the prime minister in the mission against Iran. I intend to do so and be in the U.S. during the last diplomatic chance we have to stop the Iranian nuclear [program]." Bennett called on Herzog to join him in "putting aside the campaigns and taking part in the national mission."
Also on Tuesday, Zionist Union chairman Isaac Herzog held a press conference for the foreign press, in which he said that he had informed AIPAC several days ago that he will not attend the annual convention in Washington. Herzog added that he will voice his position on the Iranian nuclear program in Israel, and not in the U.S.
"Netanyahu's spin on the question of who's going to Washington has to stop," Herzog said. He added that "every Israeli and American official - including the U.S. President," knows his stance on Iran's nuclear program, which he has voiced clearly and unequivocally.
According to Herzog, U.S. Jewry is important to him, "but it's clear to all that replacing Bibi's government is no less important, and that is my main mission these days – when I am prime minister I will go everywhere in order to safeguard the security interest of the citizens of Israel.