Netanyahu Told Merkel: 'Only Option' Is to Amend Iran Deal to Prevent Nuclear Tehran

Netanyahu tells European, Canadian leaders at World Economic Forum in Davos: Use Trump's ultimatum to improve Iran accord

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, January 24, 2018.
עמוס בן גרשום / לע"

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Wednesday and discussed, among other topics, the nuclear agreement with Iran.

After the meeting, Netanyahu told reporters he had opined to Merkel that the "only option at the moment is to introduce real and non-cosmetic changes [to the deal] that will prevent the nuclearization of Iran."

Netanyahu said he expressed his appreciation for Merkel's commitment to Israel's security, a commitment he said she reiterated during the meeting. 
"She said she understands our concerns about the nuclear agreement," Netanyahu said, "but she does not necessarily agree with the way we want to deal with it."

According to Netanyahu, Merkel said talks will take place between European leaders and the U.S. about the deal. The German leader understands the agreement "can threaten our very existence, and she has demonstrated the commitment [to this understanding] in the past," according to Netanyahu.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, January 24, 2018.
עמוס בן גרשום / לע"

Netanyahu also met with a number of others world leaders at the summit in Davos, including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel and President of the Swiss Confederation Alain Berset. 

The leaders spoke about the nuclear agreement, with Netanyahu calling on them to take advantage of the opportunity provided by U.S. President Donald Trump’s ultimatum and improve the deal. Netanyahu is expected to meet with Trump on Thursday afternoon. 

Earlier this month, Trump waived sanctions on Iran, allowing the nuclear deal to survive. He, however, stated that this will be the "last time" he waives those sanctions, unless the U.S. and its European allies can find a way to remove "loopholes" in the agreement within the next four months.

In Davos, Netanyahu once again reiterated he will not allow Iran to establish itself militarily in Syria, adding that Israel is taking action to prevent this. As for the Palestinian issue, Netanyahu’s bureau said in a statement that the government “will not compromise on Israel’s security needs in any future agreement.”

In their meeting, Netanyahu and the Swiss leaders agreed to create new channels for economic cooperation between the two countries. Netanyahu and Trudeau discussed updating the free trade agreement between the two nations and agreed to speed up the negotiations on the matter.  

Before leaving for Davos Tuesday, Netanyahu said he would stress the need for changes to the Iran nuclear deal in his meetings with Merkel and Macron.

"In any case, with or without an agreement, our policy is to prevent the terrorist regime in Iran from arming itself with nuclear weapons, which would endanger us, the Middle East and the entire world," he said.

Netanyahu's participation in Davos, like almost everything else going on there throughout the week, will likely be eclipsed by Trump's Friday appearance. 

Trump's "America first" agenda could easily clash with Davos' theme of "Creating a Shared Future in Fractured World." Participants in the forum can experience an exhibit illustrating “a day in the life of a refugee,” hear about ways to uphold the Paris climate accord and promote free trade – or rub elbows with any number of leaders of African countries.

Trump and Netanyahu are expected to meet on Thursday, which will mark their first meeting since Trump announced the U.S. was recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital. The two last met in September on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.