Israel cautioned on Sunday against the emerging nuclear deal with Tehran, as representatives of the P5+1 were in Lausanne hammering out the details of an accord ahead of the Tuesday deadline.
Speaking at his weekly cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that the deal was worse than Jerusalem feared.
“After the Beirut-Damascus-Baghdad axis, Iran is maneuvering from the south to take over the entire Middle East,” Netanyahu said at a cabinet meeting, one of the last for his outgoing government. “The Iran-Lausanne-Yemen axis is dangerous for mankind and must be stopped.”
Netanyahu told ministers that he had spoken with Republican leaders in the US Senate and “conveyed our serious concern regarding the arrangement with Iran at the nuclear talks. This agreement confirms all our fears and exceeds them.”
The Times of Israel blogged developments as they unfolded.
PM says deal ‘must be stopped’
Netanyahu warns the emerging agreement with Tehran is “dangerous for mankind and must be stopped.”
“After the Beirut-Damascus-Baghdad axis, Iran is maneuvering from the south to take over the entire Middle East,” Netanyahu says at a cabinet meeting, one of the last for his outgoing government. “The Iran-Lausanne-Yemen axis is dangerous for mankind and must be stopped.”
Egypt says Arab leaders agree to joint force
Egypt’s president says Arab leaders meeting at a summit have agreed in principle to create a joint Arab military force in the face of the “challenges” facing the region.
Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi makes the comment during the closing session of a two-day Arab summit in the Egyptian resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh.
Sissi says a high-level panel will work under the supervision of Arab chiefs of staff to work out the structure and mechanism of the force.
Already, a Saudi-led coalition is staging airstrikes against positions of Shiite rebels in Yemen and their allies. However, it is unlikely that all 22-member nations of the Arab League will join the proposed force.
Egyptian officials say the proposed force would be made up of roughly 40,000 elite troops and backed by jets, warships and light armor.
Likud MK says Israel not bound by Iran deal
Likud MK Tzachi Hanegbi tells Israel Radio that Israel is not bound by any deal reached between the world powers and Iran on its nuclear program.
He says Israel reserves the right to defend its security, in an apparent veiled threat of a military strike on Iran.
Givati commander to be indicted
Lt. Col. Liran Hajbi, commander of the Tzabar unit in the Givati Brigade, will be indicted for conduct unbecoming an officer, the Ynet news website reports.
Hajbi will be indicted for harassing a female soldier under his command via text message, and for embracing and kissing her against her will, the report says.
He will resign from the IDF.
Tunisia says museum attack mastermind killed
Tunisia says it killed the leader of the jihadists accused of organizing the massacre at its national museum, as thousands took to the streets Sunday in a march against extremism.
Authorities say Lokmane Abou Sakhr — an Algerian who was singled out as the organizer of the museum attack — was killed along with at least eight others from the notorious Okba Ibn Nafaa Brigade.
Officials had accused Abou Sakhr and his group of organizing the attack on the Bardo Museum that left 21 foreign tourists dead, despite a claim of responsibility from the Islamic State group.
Tunisian forces “were able yesterday (Saturday) to kill the most important members of the Okba Ibn Nafaa Brigade including its head Lokmane Abou Sakhr,” Prime Minister Habib Essid tells reporters.
All P5+1 officials to meet today, US says
The United States says that all representatives of the P5+1 world powers in Lausanne will meet Sunday, AFP reports.
Joint meeting the first of its kind
World powers seeking to pin down a nuclear deal with Iran will hold their first full meeting with the Iranian delegation during talks in Switzerland later Sunday, US officials say.
US Secretary of State John Kerry, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, France’s Laurent Fabius as well as China’s Wang Yi and EU High Representative Federica Mogherini will meet their Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif and political directors from Russia and Britain, an American official says.
Likud, Kulanu negotiators to meet tonight
The Likud negotiating team will meet tonight with representatives of Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu party for coalition talks, the Walla news website reports.
The negotiations come after Kahlon canceled a meeting planned for Thursday.
Joint (Arab) List ends march in Jerusalem
Lawmakers from the Joint (Arab) List complete their four-day march from the Negev desert, arriving at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem.
Some 100 runners showed up in Jerusalem, ending a protest in support of the recognition of Bedouin towns in the south, Haaretz reports.
Welsh soccer team plays with Jewish, Arab kids
The national soccer team of Wales, in Israel for a European Championship game, holds a workshop for some 23 Jewish and Arab kids in Haifa.
The Israeli kids “were coached on ball skills from leading names in football including Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale and Liverpool’s Joe Ledley,” according to a statement.
Matthew Gould, Britain’s ambassador to Israel, says the event “sends a strong message.”
“Football is a great equalizer. We are proud to support this initiative that breaks down barriers between communities through football,” he says.
Rivlin attends funeral for first Singapore PM
President Reuven Rivlin attends the funeral of Singapore’s first prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew.
During his visit, Rivlin also meets with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“I follow closely, and with great interest, the processes occurring under your leadership of India,” Rivlin tells Modi, according to a statement. “The excellent relations between our countries are based upon strong foundations, two states which share common values, and are first and foremost, thriving democracies.”
DNA from 78 Germanwings crash victims found
Forensic teams have isolated 78 distinct DNA strands from body parts recovered from the Germanwings crash site in the French Alps, one of the lead investigators says.
Prosecutor Brice Robin adds that an access road is being built for all-terrain vehicles to reach the site where 150 people died to help with the removal of large parts of the plane, and could be completed by Monday night.
Provisional agreement on key elements said reached
Iran and six world powers have reached provisional agreement on key parts of a deal sharply curtailing Tehran’s nuclear program, Western diplomats in talks in Switzerland say.
One of these diplomats says Iran had “more or less” agreed to slash the number of its centrifuge machines by more than two-thirds and to ship abroad most of its stockpile of nuclear material.
New MKs make first Knesset visit
The 39 new MKs make their first visit to the Knesset for orientation. They will be sworn in at a later date.
Fresh faces include ex-ambassador Michael Oren, journalist Yinon Magal, and ex-general Yoav Galant.
אימון יבש pic.twitter.com/QvjTct4VPI
— Yinon Magal (@YinonMagal) March 29, 2015
Iranian diplomats deny provisional agreement
Iranian diplomats deny that any tentative agreement on its nuclear program has been struck, saying that any reports of a specific number of centrifuges and exporting its stockpiles were “journalistic speculation.”
“The fact is that we will conserve a substantial number of centrifuges, that no site will be closed, in particular Fordo. These are the basis of the talks,” the Iranian diplomat says.
A senior member of the Iranian negotiating team says that the “publication of such information by certain Western media is aimed at creating an atmosphere to disturb the negotiating process.”
Iran reportedly agrees to export uranium to Russia
Channel 2 reports that Iran agrees to export its enriched uranium to Russia, and reduce the number of its centrifuges to less than 6,000.
Ya’alon says nuclear deal ‘a tragedy’
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon says the emerging deal with Iran is “a very bad deal.”
Turning Iran into a nuclear threshold state “would be nothing less than a tragedy for the moderate regimes in the Middle East and the entire Western world,” Ya’alon says.
Pointing to its support for the rebels in Yemen, he says: “Instead of punishing for it, Iran is getting a prize. Instead of issuing an uncompromising ultimatum to stop its support for terror — from Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon to the Palestinians, the Far East, Europe, Africa, and North America — the West is welcoming Iran to the family of nations through the front door.”
Ya’alon continues: “You don’t need to be an intelligence officer to see Iran is lying barefacedly, and is today the greatest danger to the stability of the Middle East.”
Full Iran, P5+1 meeting postponed
World powers seeking to pin down a nuclear deal with Iran Sunday were rescheduling their first full meeting with the Iranian delegation, US officials say.
A meeting, which had been due at 3:30 pm (1530GMT), “will be rescheduled due to scheduling issues,” a State Department official says.
US Secretary of State John Kerry, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, France’s Laurent Fabius were still planning to sit down with China’s Wang Yi and EU High Representative Federica Mogherini as well as their Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif and political directors from Russia and Britain.
Obama treatment of Netanyahu ‘reprehensible,’ Boehner says
In an interview with CNN’s State of the Union, House Speaker John Boehner criticizes the Obama administration’s treatment of Netanyahu.
“I think the animosity exhibited by our administration toward the prime minister of Israel is reprehensible,” Boehner says. “And I think that the pressure that they’ve put on him over the last four or five years have frankly pushed him to the point where he had to speak up.”
“I don’t blame him at all for speaking up,” he says.
Boehner says his upcoming Israel trip was planned months ago, and is not “a victory lap” after Netanyahu’s reelection.
He says the US-Israel relationship has been “strengthened” over the past few months, and his visit aims to improve ties with the US’s “important ally” further.
Boehner also downplayed Netanyahu’s remarks about the two-state solution.
“Well, he doesn’t have a partner,” Boehner says. “How do you have a two-state solution when you don’t have a partner in that solution, when you don’t have a partner for peace, when you’ve got a — when the other state is vowing to wipe you off the face of the earth?”
Putin pledges backing for Palestinian state
Russian President Vladimir Putin says his country will support efforts to build a Palestinian state with a capital in East Jerusalem.
Putin pledged his support Saturday during a meeting of the Arab League in Sharm el-Sheik.
“Palestinians have the right to establish an independent and habitable state with a capital in east Jerusalem,” Putin reportedly tells the leaders of 22 Arab states, according to media reports.
He adds: “Russia will continue to contribute to achieving this goal through bilateral and multilateral channels.”
Putin reportedly also called Netanyahu to congratulate him on his reelection and to discuss the talks on Iran’s nuclear program, to which Russia is a party as one of the P5+1 world powers.
White House says US seeking strong deal
White House spokesman Josh Earnest says US negotiators are aiming for a strong deal. By accepting constraints on their atomic activities, the Iranians would “live up to their rhetoric that they are not trying to acquire a nuclear weapon,” he says in Washington on ABC’s “This Week.”
White House says it’s time for Iran to prove commitment
Earnest tells ABC that “ultimately it’s time for the Iranians to send a clear signal to the international community about whether or not they are willing to make the serious commitments required.”
“So if they can make those commitments, they should be able to do that by the end of March,” he adds.
Iran says no deal yet, issues remain
A senior Iranian negotiator says there is no agreement yet with global powers on Iran’s nuclear program, telling AFP that outstanding issues had still to be dealt with.
“No deal has been reached, and the remaining issues have to be resolved,” the Iranian official comments.
Several Western diplomats have told AFP there is tentative agreement on some key parts of the emerging deal, but warned it was far from concluded.
Zionist Union MK nixes unity government
Zionist Union MK Eitan Cabel puts an end to rumors that his party will join a Netanyahu-led unity government.
“Let’s try to put an end to the speculation: The Zionist Union is going to the opposition! Every morning I am amazed by the screenwriting abilities of various pundits, but the negotiations are only occurring in their imagination. A good movie could be made of that, but news it is not,” he writes on Facebook.
ZAKA team to head to site of Alps crash
A team of eight ZAKA volunteers will fly to France on Monday morning to the site of the Germanwings plane crash to recover the remains of Israeli victim Eyal Baum.
“ZAKA volunteers will offer their extensive experience and expertise in international search and recovery missions to the local search teams,” according to a statement from the organization.
“In particular, the ZAKA volunteers will work to recover, identify and bring the remains of Israeli Eyal Baum to a full Jewish burial in Israel. Lufthansa, the parent company of Germanwings, agreed to the request of the Baum family to bring a ZAKA delegation from Israel to assist in the recovery operation.”
IS fighters behead 8 Shiites in Syria
A new video released by the Islamic State group shows its fighters cutting off the heads of eight men said to be Shiite Muslims.
The video, posted on social media Sunday, says the eight men were beheaded in the central Syrian province of Hama.
The men, wearing orange uniforms with their hands tied behind their backs, are led forward in a field by teenage boys. They are then handed over to a group of IS fighters — with each fighter receiving a knife from one of the boys before beheading the men.
An Islamic State fighter speaks in the video, using a derogatory term for Shiites and calling them “impure infidels.”
German FM can’t rule out ‘further crises’ in talks
In Lausanne, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier says the negotiations are going well, but the possibility of “further crises” stands.
“I… cannot rule out — and this is almost always the case with such negotiations, where the stakes are high and in which we feel responsible not only to ourselves but to all the others who are not at the table — I can’t rule out that there will be further crises in these negotiations,” he says, according to Reuters.
P5+1, Iran to meet at 8:30 p.m.
AP’s Matt Lee writes on Twitter that a joint meeting between representatives of the world powers and Iran will be held at 8:30 p.m. (9:30 p.m. Israel time).
The original meeting was called for 3:30 p.m., but was postponed due to scheduling conflicts.
Several issues holding up deal, Iran says
Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi says there are several issues holding up a final deal, and does not elaborate.
He adds that there will not be a phased agreement, and that the P5+1 will meet tomorrow morning to continue talks. He also appears not to rule out an extension of the talks.
— Trita Parsi (@tparsi) March 29, 2015
Aragchi: We will remain at the negotiation table for however long it takes to get a good deal #IranTalks
— Trita Parsi (@tparsi) March 29, 2015
Meanwhile, the British foreign minister says a deal can be reached, and must put the bomb out of reach, AFP reports.