Netanyahu Standing Alongside Pence: Iran Nuclear Deal Should Be Nixed if Not Fixed

Earlier today, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence spoke at length about the Iran deal at the Knesset, and said that the U.S. embassy will be moved to Jerusalem by the end of next year

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, Jan 22, 2018
Emile Salman

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the Iran nuclear deal "disasterous" in a press conference with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence on Monday in Jerusalem.

"There is still time for leaders to sieze the opportunity that President Trump has offered them, to correct the failing of the nuclear deal. But if those leaders to not sieze that opportunity, or they offer only cosmetic changes, Israel will unequivocally support the president's decision to walk away from a bad deal and restore crippling sanctions. Our position is clear: fully fix it, or fully nix it," said Netanyahu.

Pence recognized the situation with Iran, and said that the U.S. also aspires for hope in the region. Pence said that he met with the leaders of Egypt and Jordan earlier in his trip and said that those two countries made peace with Israel and now understand the threat that Iran poses. He added that he is in Israel to reiterate the strong relationship between Israel and the U.S. and that the two countries stand together in facing off against radical Islam.

Earlier today, Pence spoke in the Knesset and criticized the Iran deal. He said that if the Iran deal isn't fixed, the U.S. will leave the deal, vowing to prevent the Islamic Republic from obtaining nuclear arms. "I have a solemn promise from me to all of Israel: the U.S. will never allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon," he said.

"The Iran nuclear deal is a disaster and the United States of America will no longer certify this ill-conceived agreement," he said, adding that the U.S. will "no longer tolerate Iran’s support of terrorism."

During his speech, Pence also announced that the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem will open by the end of 2019, adding that "if both sides agree, the United States of America will support a two-state solution." This comment garnered a round of applause.

Netanyahu also spoke and said that there has never been a vice president as committed to the Jewish people, and that the "historic decision" to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital will be remembered in Zionist history, alongside the Balfour Declaration.

Pence was interrupted during his speech by Israeli Arab lawmakers who pulled out signs protesting the address before being escorted out by security

Earlier on Monday, Pence and Netanyahu met privately. A senior official said that during the meeting, Netanyahu  expressed his appreciation for the special relationship between Israel and the U.S. and further thanked Pence for the Trump administration's steadfast support of Israel.

Netanyahu also brought up the matter of the Israeli citizens believed to be held in the Gaza Strip, including Lt. Hadar Goldin and Staff Sgt. Oron Shaul.

Prime Minister Netanyahu further said that the relationship between the U.S. and Israel is based on a deep years-long friendship. Pence said that he remembers the first time that Netanyahu went to Washington as prime minister in 2009, and stood up to criticism from the vice president's colleagues in Congress. Pence added that he has a picture from that meeting sits in the vice president's official residence today.

The Palestinians are boycotting Pence's visit to Israel. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is visiting Brussels, and called for the European Union to recognize Palestine's 1967 borders. Tomorrow, a general strike is planned in the Palestinian Authority, as well as protests.