LAUSANNE - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday that now was the time for the international community to stand its ground for a better deal with Iran, in a special press statement in Jerusalem shortly after negotiations resumed in Lausanne over Tehran's nuclear program.
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"The concessions proposed to Iran in Lausanne promise a bad deal that will endanger Israel, the Middle East, and world peace," he said.
Referring to the declaration made by the commander of Iran's Basij militia, Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Naqdi, Tuesday that "the destruction of Israel is not up for negotiation," Netanyahu said that it was inconceivable how the world powers could conduct negotiations with Iran for a deal that would pave its path toward a nuclear weapon.
Netanyahu added that Iran was intensifying its campaign of terror in the Middle East, particularly in Yemen. The world powers must demand Iran halt its support for terror and cease its aggression in the region as a condition for any nuclear agreement.
The head of Iran's negotiating team, meanwhile, said Wednesday that most of the issues up for negotiation have been resolved, save for two to three differences of opinions that were in progress. The chief negotiator, Abbas Araqchi said that there was a good chance a deal would be reached by the end of the day – but that without a solution to the unresolved issues, there would be no deal.
Araqchi added that no deal would be presented by day's end, only a joint statement by Iran and the world powers that would stress that progress has been made and that clarified that the sides would continue negotiating to phrase the different solutions. The Iranian team will leave Lausanne after the statement is made and will return to Tehran.
About an hour after delivering his press statement on Iran, Netanyahu met with visiting U.S. House Speaker John Boehner in Jerusalem. In a joint statement, the two refrained from making any references to the nuclear talks. Netanyahu lauded the strength of Israel's relations with the U.S. and stressed the common values and interests the two sides share.
Boehner echoed Netanyahu's statements, saying: "The bonds are as strong as ever. We may have political disagreements from time to time, but the bonds are strong."
Netanyahu had initially intended to issue the statement at the start of his meeting with Boehner, chief rival to President Barack Obama.
Officials in the Prime Minister's Office said that Netanyahu decided in the end to postpone his meeting with Boehner by an hour, from noon until 1 P.M., in order to deliver his statement separately and to avoid creating a misperception of Israeli interference in American politics or in the conflict between Boehner and the White House over the Iranian issue.
An hour before Netanyahu's statement, the six world powers resumed their talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif at the Beau Rivage hotel in Lausanne, following a P5+1 meeting to coordinate.
The foreign ministers of Russia, China and France had left Lausanne late Tuesday, and were thus represented by their political directors at the Wednesday meeting.
On Tuesday night, following a day of intense talks and innumerable spins and real crises, Zarid announced that the six world powers and Iran have found solutions to most of the issues being negotiated.
"I hope that we can finalize the work on Wednesday and hopefully start the process of drafting [a framework agreement]," he said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov sounded even more optimistic, confirming late Tuesday that progress had made and that a framework agreement is due to be drafted on Wednesday. He said the sides were able to agree on the principal issues, and added that a joint statement on the forming deal will be given on Wednesday by Zarif and European Union foreign policy chief Federika Mogherini.
Russian diplomats told the Itar-Tass news agency that the framework agreement would be a two-page document that would be presented by the end of the day.
British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond also sounded optimistic Wednesday regarding the chances of reaching a framework agreement with Iran by the end of the day.
"I think we have a broad framework of understanding but there are still some key issues that have to be worked through," he told the BBC in an interview.
"We have made significant progress over the last few days but it has been slow -going. I’m optimistic that we will make further progress this morning ...Fingers crossed and we’ll hope to get there during the course of the day," he added.
Hammond also said that the powers wanted to ensure that if a deal was indeed reached, it would be the best possible deal for the West, for Iran and for the world at large, that would promise future peace in the Middle East.
Senior officials in the German negotiating team also said Wednesday that the talks were progressing slowly, but added that "agreement is possible if all sides demonstrate good will."
we’ll make sure if we get the deal done it is a deal that is good for us, good for Iran, good for the world, and ensures peace in the region in the future.
The self-imposed deadline for reaching a deadline had been set for Tuesday at midnight, but with just three hours to go, the world powers decided at 9 P.M. to continue the talks through the night.
"We've made enough progress in the last days to merit staying until Wednesday. There are several difficult issues still remaining," acting spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State Marie Harf said.