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Lapid seeks probe into PM’s handling of Iran nuclear talks

Yesh Atid leader says ‘every door is closed’ to Netanyahu, and ‘at moment of truth, no one was ready to listen’

Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid speaks at a party meeting at the Knesset on June 1, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid speaks at a party meeting at the Knesset on June 1, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid on Saturday called for a state commission of inquiry into what he said was Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s diplomatic failure regarding the newly signed world powers’ agreement with Iran on its nuclear program.

Speaking at a cultural event in the central city of Rehovot, Lapid said he would on Sunday present the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee with a request to establish such a committee.

The Yesh Atid leader branded the agreement a resounding failure on the part of Israel, whose political leadership had vehemently opposed the contents of the deal. No one had been willing to consult with Netanyahu, Lapid said, and Israel had no representation at the negotiations on the agreement.

“Netanyahu’s actions constitute the greatest foreign policy failure in Israeli history. For years and years, his stated foreign policy goal was to dismantle the Iranian nuclear program,” the Haaretz daily quoted Lapid as saying.

“His failure is so large, that not only the US, but also Russia, Germany, France, the EU and China – all doors are now closed to him. At the moment of truth, when we needed to thwart this bad deal, no one was ready to listen to Netanyahu, or even talk to him.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu holds a joint press conference with visiting British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond in Jerusalem,  July 16, 2015. (AFP PHOTO / POOL / DEBBIE HILL)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu holds a joint press conference with visiting British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond in Jerusalem, July 16, 2015. (AFP PHOTO / POOL / DEBBIE HILL)

Netanyahu has often clashed with both the US and other world powers over the agreement. In a meeting earlier this week with British Secretary of Defense Philip Hammond, Netanyahu described the Iran deal as a “failure of diplomacy” that threatens Israel’s existence and regional security. His comments came a day after Hammond told the British parliament that Israel would not have been satisfied with any agreement reached with Tehran. “Israel doesn’t want any deal with Iran,” Hammond told MPs ahead of his visit — a charge Netanyahu firmly rejected at their joint press conference.

The prime minister also frequently butted heads with President Barack Obama on the issue. In March, Netanyahu gave a speech to Congress exhorting the US to reject the agreement, a speech that the White House was unaware of until well after the invitation from the Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner had been issued.

Following the speech, Obama said that Netanyahu “didn’t offer any viable alternatives” to the negotiations then being held with Iran. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of Obama’s Democratic party called the speech an “insult to the intelligence of the United States as part of the P5+1 nations.”

In the aftermath of the agreement signed Tuesday, Obama told the New York Times that the prime minister would not be able to prevent the agreement being implemented.

“Perhaps [Netanyahu] thinks he can further influence the congressional debate, and I’m confident we’re going to be able to uphold this deal and implement it without Congress preventing that,” Obama said.

Asked whether it would not be better to coordinate strategy with Netanyahu, rather than enduring their ongoing public disagreements, Obama replied: “That’s precisely the offer that I’ve made, and I’ve said that specifically to him.”

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