Netanyahu convenes ministers to discuss Iran deal
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Netanyahu convenes ministers to discuss Iran deal

Amid fierce criticism of nuclear agreement, cabinet set to meet with security chiefs for special weekend consultation

Energy and Water Minister Silvan Shalom (left), Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon (center) and Mossad chief Tamir Pardo (right) at a cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, February 22, 2015 (photo credit: Alex Kolomoisky, Pool)
Energy and Water Minister Silvan Shalom (left), Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon (center) and Mossad chief Tamir Pardo (right) at a cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, February 22, 2015 (photo credit: Alex Kolomoisky, Pool)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called a special weekend meeting of the cabinet to discuss the nuclear deal reached Thursday between Iran and world powers.

The meeting Friday will include the heads of Israel’s security and intelligence agencies, according to reports.

The nuclear deal reached in Switzerland between Tehran and the P5+1 group of world powers “threatens the survival of the state of Israel,” Netanyahu said on Thursday in a phone call with US President Barack Obama.

Obama phoned Netanyahu hours after the framework was struck. Netanyahu has been strongly opposed to the emerging deal, arguing that it does not have the necessary safeguards and will pave the way to a nuclear Iran.

“A deal based on this framework would threaten the survival of Israel. Just two days ago, Iran said that “the destruction of Israel is nonnegotiable,” and in these fateful days Iran is accelerating the arming of its terror proxies to attack Israel. This deal would legitimize Iran’s nuclear program, bolster Iran’s economy, and increase Iran’s aggression and terror throughout the Middle East and beyond,” Netanyahu told Obama during the call.

“Such a deal would not block Iran’s path to the bomb. It would pave it. It would increase the risks of nuclear proliferation in the region and the risks of a horrific war. The alternative is standing firm and increasing the pressure on Iran until a better deal is achieved,” he added.

Obama, calling from aboard Air Force One, said the deal “represents significant progress towards a lasting, comprehensive solution that cuts off all of Iran’s pathways to a bomb and verifiably ensures the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program going forward,” according to a read-out released by the White House.

Obama said the deal “in no way diminishes our concerns with respect to Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism and threats towards Israel and emphasized that the United States remains steadfast in our commitment to the security of Israel,” the White House said.

The US president told Netanyahu that he instructed his security team to “increase consultations with the new Israeli government about how we can further strengthen our long-term security cooperation with Israel and remain vigilant in countering Iran’s threats.”

Earlier, immediately after the deal was announced, an Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, castigated the framework agreement as a dangerous capitulation to Tehran that would result in the Islamic Republic’s nuclear armament.

“This is a bad framework that will lead to a bad and dangerous deal,” he said. “If an agreement is reached based on the guidelines of this framework, that would be a historic mistake that will transform the world into a much more dangerous place.”

Those comments came shortly after Obama had welcomed the deal as making the world “a safer place.” Netanyahu had tweeted earlier in the evening that the deal would need to “significantly” roll back the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program.

Obama, in his speech following the accord, openly acknowledged that he and Netanyahu “don’t agree” on how to stop Iran, and charged that Netanyahu did not want the US to move “forward to a peaceful resolution,” while telling Netanyahu that the new deal was “the most effective” and “best option.”

Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog said in a statement published on Facebook that the crux of the understandings reached between Iran and world powers was still to be finalized, and that “we must ensure that the final agreement, which will be formulated now, will roll back Iran’s nuclear program in a manner that prevents it from [obtaining] a nuclear weapon, and will protect the security interests of Israel.”

Centrist Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid noted: “On the Iranian nuclear issue, there is no opposition and coalition. We are all concerned that the Iranians will circumvent the deal and Israel must protect its own security interests. The ayatollah’s regime has been peddling fraud and deception for years and progressing with its nuclear program. They will try, from day one, to cheat the international community as they have done in the past.”

Added Lapid: There is no basis to the determination that today Iran was prevented from attaining a nuclear weapon. Israel needs to work with the United States and the international community to ensure there is no Iranian fraud, something that would threaten Israel’s security and that of the world.”

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