As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s divisive speech to Congress looms, the daylight between Israel and Washington on the Iranian file and their growing ideological rift became increasingly apparent.
The nations’ two leaders publicly voiced their differences this week, with President Barack Obama insisting the talks run their course until the March 31 political framework agreement deadline and Netanyahu warning that whatever agreement is reached by that date will most certainly jeopardize Israeli security.
In a video statement on Feb. 10, Netanyahu said there are “profound disagreements” with the US and the P5+1 over the offer made in the current round of talks.
In his view, it is an offer that “would enable Iran to threaten Israel’s survival.”
“I don’t want to be coy, the prime minister and I have a very different idea of Iran sanctions,” Obama echoed during a press briefing with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. “I have been very clear and Angela agrees with me and [UK Prime Minister] David Cameron agrees with me, and the other members of the organizations agree that it does not make sense to sour the negotiations a month or two before they are about to be completed. And we should play that out, if in fact we can get a deal we should embrace that.”
According to Amnon Cavari, a professor of American politics at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) in Herzeliya, the severity of the sanctions is the root of the disagreement since talks began.
“[Netanyahu] doesn’t want to close any deal. Obama also doesn’t believe the current deal is the best, but he believes there’s no other option,” he said.
Netanyahu, undeterred from the onslaught of criticism stemming from the speech’s proximity to the Israeli elections, repeated that a nuclear Iran threatens the entire region.
“Iran continues to forge ahead through the rubble of the new Middle East; it has already taken over four capitals, Damascus, Beirut, Baghdad and now Sana’a. Now it wants to open a third front from the Golan Heights … imagine what it will do when it has nuclear weapons,” he said during a political stump speech visit to the West Bank settlement of Eli.
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