In a phone call placed by the president hours after being rebuked by the Israeli prime minister, a stern warning was offered by Netanyahu to Obama.
“The prime minister made it clear to the most powerful man on earth that if he intends to stay the most powerful man on earth, it’s important to make a change in American policy because the practical result of his current policy is liable to lead him to the same failure that the Americans absorbed in North Korea and Pakistan, and Iran could be next in line,” Likud Beytenu MK Tzachi Hanegbi told the Knesset Channel.
“I spoke last night with President Obama. We agreed that in the coming days an Israeli team led by the national security adviser, Yossi Cohen, will go out to discuss with the United States the permanent accord with Iran,” the prime minister said.
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“This accord must bring about one outcome: the dismantling of Iran’s military nuclear capability,” Netanyahu said.
Obama called Netanyahu on Sunday to discuss the deal that the U.S. and five other world leaders reached to curb Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for lifting some $7 billion in crippling sanctions that were just beginning to threaten the regime’s credibility.
The official response from the Obama administration candy-coated the conversation that transpired between the two men with a suspected history of having a personal dislike for one another. “The two leaders reaffirmed their shared goal of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon,” the White House said.
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“The president told the Prime Minister that he wants the United States and Israel to begin consultations immediately regarding our efforts to negotiate a comprehensive solution,” the White House said in a readout of the call. They also said Obama wants the U.S. and Israel to begin consultations immediately on efforts to negotiate the framework of a solution and repeated the U.S. has a “firm … commitment to Israel, which has good reason to be skeptical about Iran’s intentions.”
Netanyahu didn’t back down from his position that the Iran deal is a “historic mistake,” but noted it would have been worse without Israel’s diplomatic efforts.
In recent years, Israel has repeatedly threatened to carry out a military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities if it concludes international diplomacy has failed to curb the Iranian nuclear program.
But if military action was difficult before, it seems all but impossible in the current climate.
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“Israel doesn’t have legitimacy right now … to conduct an independent military option against Iranian installations,” said Yoel Guzansky, a former Israeli National Security Council staffer who was responsible for monitoring the Iranian nuclear program.
“How can Israel, after the entire international community sat with Iran, shook hands with Iran and signed an agreement, operate independently?” he said. “It will be seen as someone who sabotages 10 years of trying to get Iran to the table and trying to get a deal.”