Zionist Union MK: Netanyahu ‘misleading’ Israelis on Iran deal

It’s not perfect, but accord keeps Tehran from the bomb for 15 years, says Omer Bar-Lev

Tamar Pileggi is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

MK Omer Bar-Lev (photo credit: Roni Schutzer/Flash90)
MK Omer Bar-Lev (photo credit: Roni Schutzer/Flash90)

A Zionist Union MK on Tuesday welcomed the nuclear deal six world powers signed with Iran last month, arguing that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is ignoring the ways in which the agreement significantly lowers the nuclear threat to Israel.

In an op-ed published by MSNBC, Omer Bar-Lev, a former commander of the IDF’s elite General Reconnaissance (Sayeret Matkal) unit, said that while not perfect, the accord prevents Iran from developing nuclear weapons for 15 years. He slammed Israeli leaders for not acknowledging the “significant benefits” Israel stands to gain from the historic accord. (Bar-Lev’s own party leader Isaac Herzog has slammed the accord.)

“Those who charge that the agreement increases the nuclear threat to Israel ignore inconvenient facts,” he said.

Netanyahu, Bar-Lev argued, has “deliberately misled the public” by “creating the perception that the implementation of the agreement and the removal of the sanctions depend solely upon the upcoming vote in the US Congress.”

Bar-Lev noted that Britain, France, Russia, China, Germany and the United Nations Security Council have already voted to remove the longtime sanctions crippling Iran’s economy pending a confirmation from the International Atomic Energy Agency that Tehran has complied with the initial terms of the agreement.

According to Bar-Lev, if Congress overrides President Barack Obama and rejects the deal, under the terms of the accord Iran is allowed to reject the accord in its entirety and not uphold any of the agreed-upon commitments.

‘Given the reality we face, Israel would be best served if we objectively examined the situation rather than spreading fear and half-truths’

He argued that this potential development would result in a two-pronged threat to Israel by creating a reality in which the funds from already-removed sanctions would be used by Iran to finance regional terror groups, and Tehran would be able to resume its nuclear weapons program without violating any international agreement or resolution.

Israel, whose relationship with the United States Bar-Lev claims has been badly damaged by Netanyahu, would be left isolated and blamed for the collapse of the agreement, he warned.

If Israel had been party to the nuclear negotiations, or been in close contact with P5+1 negotiators, Israeli would have been able to shape a far more favorable final agreement, he noted.

“However, given the reality we face, Israel would be best served if we objectively examined the situation rather than spreading fear and half-truths,” he wrote.

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