Ministers, opposition slam emerging deal on Iran’s nuclear program

Sa’ar says terms would turn Iran into a nuclear ‘breakout’ state; Lapid warns against lifting sanctions, Yachimovich says Israel’s leverage reduced because of failings on Palestinian front

Yifa Yaakov is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Former interior minister Gideon Sa'ar (photo credit: Abir Sultan/Flash90/File)
Former interior minister Gideon Sa'ar (photo credit: Abir Sultan/Flash90/File)

Ministers and opposition politicians on Saturday criticized the reported terms of a deal being discussed in Geneva on Tehran’s rogue nuclear program.

Echoing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s comments on Friday, his Likud colleague Gideon Sa’ar, the minister of interior, said the deal being discussed was “a bad deal,” and said Netanyahu had been left with no choice but to angrily and publicly oppose it.

It would have been unthinkable for Israel to have “sat in silence,” said Sa’ar, when news was emerging of a possible deal under which “Iran gets legitimacy for enrichment” and would “become a breakout state.”

Sa’ar said that Netanyahu spoke to both US President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin, and expressed opposition to the terms, Sa’ar said.

Speaking on BBC Radio’s Today program, Finance Minister Yair Lapid warned Saturday that if the sanctions currently imposed on Iran were even partially lifted, it would be impossible to keep tabs on the companies wishing to do business with Iran, much less “stop the flood.”

Lapid said that the impact of the sanctions was the only reason the Iranians were sitting at the negotiating table in Geneva. Once some of the sanctions were lifted, said Lapid, “all hell is going to break loose.” Nobody would want to be the last in line to resume dealings with Iran, he warned, and thus the whole sanctions framework would be endangered. That’s why, he added, “a partial deal is even worse than no deal at all.”

Lapid’s comments came in stark contrast to Obama’s assurances Friday that even if “some very modest relief” were provided to Iran under an interim deal now, the economic pressure could be “cranked up” again if Tehran failed to come through on commitments over its rogue nuclear program.

Opposition leader Shelly Yachimovich, meanwhile, said Saturday that Israel’s position in the negotiations was difficult, as “it is very worrying that Israel is entering the complex arena of negotiations between Iran and world powers on the nuclear issue at the peak of a crisis with the Americans.”

She said details of the terms being discussed in Geneva represented “a cause for concern” and underlined that she shared Netanyahu’s firm insistence that Iran must not be enabled to attain a nuclear weapons capability.

Labor chair Yachimovich added that the more Washington distances itself from Jerusalem as peace talks with the Palestinians stagnate, the more Israel’s influence on the Iranian issue is diminished.

Also speaking on the Iranian issue Saturday was MK Yitzhak Herzog (Labor), who called on Netanyahu to accept that his Iran policy had failed to convince world powers of Israel’s point of view.

Lamenting the fact that Israel had “no influence at all” on the negotiations currently taking place in Geneva, Herzog nevertheless urged Western powers to seize the “historic opportunity to bring about change” by “dismantling Iran’s nuclear program.”

read more:
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed
Register for free
and continue reading
Registering also lets you comment on articles and helps us improve your experience. It takes just a few seconds.
Already registered? Enter your email to sign in.
Please use the following structure:
Or Continue with
By registering you agree to the terms and conditions. Once registered, you’ll receive our Daily Edition email for free.
Register to continue
Or Continue with
Log in to continue
Sign in or Register
Or Continue with
check your email
Check your email
We sent an email to you at .
It has a link that will sign you in.