Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s vocal opposition to the P5+1 nations’ signing of an interim deal with Iran last week was “weak and desperate,” an unnamed senior official at the White House reportedly said Sunday, adding that the Obama administration considered Netanyahu’s complaints to be of no great concern to the US diplomatic effort.
According to a Channel 10 news report, the senior American official added that although the White House believes Netanyahu will attempt to thwart US government policy by appealing to members of Congress, the Obama administration does not see the Israeli prime minister as a threat in this regard.
Netanyahu’s statements since the interim deal with Iran was signed early last Sunday “indicate a lack of self-confidence. We’re not excited about his vocal opposition,” the official was quoted saying.
Still, the unnamed official added, “We do not really fear the result. We have learned how to work in spite of him; he can be managed.”
The official added that Netanyahu’s opposition to the Geneva deal is understandable, but said that the prime minister’s response was causing more harm than good.
“Too bad he does not trust us,” the official said. “We know what we’re doing on Iran. We’re not naive.”
Netanyahu has publicly savaged the Geneva interim accord with Iran — in which Iran is to partially freeze its nuclear program in return for some sanctions relief — as a “historic mistake” and said Israel does not see itself as bound by it. Officials in Jerusalem have repeatedly castigated President Barack Obama for overseeing a failed negotiating process with Iran under which, they claim, Iran’s nuclear weapons drive is not being thwarted while the sanctions pressure against Iran is collapsing.
Following the agreement, Netanyahu and Obama spoke by phone and Netanyahu agreed to dispatch his national security adviser, Yossi Cohen, to Washington to consult on the next intended stage of the diplomatic process — a permanent deal on Iran’s rogue nuclear program.
Earlier Sunday, former prime minister Ehud Olmert launched a bitter attack against his successor, Netanyahu, for his “utterly misguided” policy of publicly confronting the United States over its Iran policy.
“We’ve declared war on the American government. You can’t deny this,” Olmert said at panel discussion at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv.
Raphael Ahren contributed to this report