Depicting Israel as a potential victim of the newly concluded Iran nuclear deal, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday launched an unprecedentedly cynical attack on US Secretary of State John Kerry in a private conversation reported by Israel’s Army Radio.
Commenting on Kerry’s decision not to visit Israel during a trip to the Middle East next week, in which the secretary will discuss the Iran deal with Egyptian and Gulf leaders, Netanyahu was quoted as saying, “He really has no reason to come here.”
The Iran deal, which Netanyahu has bitterly criticized, “has nothing to do with us, and has no influence on us,” the prime minister went on bitterly, according to the radio report.
“We’re not at the table” where it was negotiated, Netanyahu reportedly concluded. “We’re one of the courses on the menu itself.”
Netanyahu was speaking in what the radio report called “private conversations” a day after Kerry announced a trip to the Mideast and Asia.
The top US diplomat starts off in Cairo, for the US-Egypt Strategic Dialogue on Sunday. He then goes to Doha, Qatar, to meet with foreign ministers of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, which includes Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman.
The secretary will be traveling in the aftermath of the deal signed by the P5+1 powers with Iran two weeks ago, aimed at curbing its nuclear program. The deal is bitterly opposed by the Israeli government as paving the Iranian path to the bomb and giving the regime in Tehran tens of billions in sanctions relief.
Kerry has accused Netanyahu of going “way over the top” in his criticisms. Netanyahu is bidding to persuade Congress to reject the deal with enough votes to overcome a presidential veto.
The Zionist Union opposition said Monday that Kerry’s decision to skip Israel on a Middle East trip proved that Netanyahu’s handling of the US-Israel relationship “is not strengthening Israel’s security.” Netanyahu’s approach, it said, is “prompting the Americans to seek new allies in our region.”
Kerry warned members of Congress on Tuesday that if they voted against the nuclear deal negotiated with Iran, Tehran would move forward toward an atomic bomb, international sanctions would crumble and the US would be left with none of the access and inspections provided for by the accord.