Opposition MKs slam Defense Ministry’s harsh rebuttal of Obama over Iran deal
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Opposition MKs slam Defense Ministry’s harsh rebuttal of Obama over Iran deal

Meretz head says Liberman 'intent on destroying ties with US' after ministry compares historic accord to pre-WWII Munich Agreement

Meretz leader Zehava Galon on December 25, 2015 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Meretz leader Zehava Galon on December 25, 2015 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Opposition politicians on Saturday criticized the Defense Ministry’s reaction to comments by US President Barack Obama praising the Iran nuclear deal.

The Defense Ministry statement on Friday compared the Iran deal with the pre-World War II Munich Agreement allowing Nazi Germany’s annexation of parts of Czechoslovakia — an agreement it swiftly violated.

In its response to Obama’s comments from Thursday, the Defense Ministry said in a statement Friday: “The Israeli defense establishment believes that agreements have value only if they are based on the existing reality, but they have no value if the facts on the ground are the complete opposite of those the deal is based upon.”

“The Munich Agreement didn’t prevent the Second World War and the Holocaust precisely because its basis, according to which Nazi Germany could be a partner for some sort of agreement, was flawed, and because the leaders of the world then ignored the explicit statements of [Adolf] Hitler and the rest of Nazi Germany’s leaders,” the ministry said.

US President Barack Obama answers a question during a news conference Thursday, August 4, 2016, at the Pentagon in Washington. (AP/Jacquelyn Martin)
US President Barack Obama answers a question during a news conference Thursday, August 4, 2016, at the Pentagon in Washington. (AP/Jacquelyn Martin)

“These things are also true about Iran, which also clearly states openly that its aim is to destroy the state of Israel,” it said, pointing to a recent State Department report that determined that Iran is the number one state sponsor of terrorism worldwide.

The statement came a day after Obama said the Israeli defense establishment was pleased with the controversial deal.

On Saturday, Meretz leader Zehava Galon criticized the Defense Ministry statement and said recently installed Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman was trying to sabotage Israeli-US relations “just a moment before the military aid act is going to pass in the US Senate.”

Galon was quoted by Israel Radio as saying that Liberman “was intent on destroying [Israel’s] relations with the US.”

On Twitter, Galon said Liberman’s “rhetoric of threats, victimization and fear serves his own political needs, and not Israel’s security.”

Leader of the Yesh Atid political party, Yair Lapid, and leader of the Yisrael Beytenu party, Avigdor Liberman, lead a joint conference in the Knesset regarding Israel's foreign policy. February 29, 2016. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)
Leader of the Yesh Atid political party, Yair Lapid, and leader of the Yisrael Beytenu party, Avigdor Liberman, lead a joint conference in the Knesset regarding Israel’s foreign policy. February 29, 2016. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid called the Defense Ministry statement “a combination of diplomatic irresponsibility and an additional and redundant damage to US-Israel relations. An Israeli official cannot simply compare an American president to those who succumbed to the Nazis. The Americans tend to remember such insults and it again destabilizes the core of the relationship.”

Also Friday, a top minister close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu directly contradicted Obama’s assertion that Israel now backs the accord. “I don’t know to which Israelis he (Obama) spoke recently. But I can promise you that the position of the prime minister, the defense minister and of most senior officials in the defense establishment has not changed,” Tzachi Hanegbi told The Times of Israel.

“The opposite is the case. The time that has elapsed since the deal was signed proved all our worries that, regrettably, we were justified before the deal was made,” said Hanegbi, a minister who works in the Prime Minister’s Office and who until recently chaired the Knesset’s powerful Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

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