A day after President Barack Obama mustered enough votes to see through the nuclear deal with Iran, Israel’s Foreign Ministry chief said Israel had tried to raise awareness about the perils of the accord, but denied that he had ever said it was the Jewish state’s aim to prevent the agreement being approved.
Foreign Ministry Director-General Dore Gold disputed a claim by an Army Radio interviewer Thursday that his previous comments had made clear that Israel was working to overturn the deal.
“I never committed myself either to you or anyone else,” said Gold, a close confidant of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “I never went into those specifics.”
Gold also rejected the suggestion that Obama’s success in mustering enough support to uphold a veto of an anti-deal vote was a rout for Israel.
“Certainly not at all,” Gold said. “Most of Congress is against the deal.”
The Jewish state had railed against the deal, which aims to curb Iran’s ability to obtain nuclear weapons in return for lifting crippling sanctions.
The Foreign Ministry chief said Israel would continue to highlight what it claims are the dangers of the agreement, which Netanyahu and other Israeli officials have branded a “bad deal.”
“The Israeli message was significant and remains significant and was well received, among the American public too,” Gold said. He added that the purpose was to express the deep concern by all parties in Israel, including the government and the opposition.
On Wednesday, Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski announced her support for the agreement, becoming the 34th Democrat to back the deal and allowing the Obama administration to breathe a major sigh of relief.
In order to scupper the agreement, opponents of the deal needed 13 Democratic senators to go against their president, who has consistently championed the agreement and vowed to veto any move by the Republican-dominated Congress to disapprove it. With the support of 34 senators, Obama’s veto is now
Also Thursday, an official from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the leading pro-Israel lobby in the US, accused Netanyahu of harming the opposition to the Iran deal by insisting on addressing Congress on the issue in March.
“Netanyahu’s speech in Congress made the Iranian issue a partisan one,” the AIPAC official told Israel’s Walla news. “As soon as he insisted on going ahead with this move, which was perceived as a Republican maneuver against the president, we lost a significant part of the Democratic party, without which it was impossible to block the agreement,” said the official, who asked not to be named.
AIPAC has been at the forefront of the battle against the agreement reached in July between Iran and the world powers, which curbs Iran’s nuclear program in return for the lifting of crippling economic sanctions.