Israeli officials, analysts and commentators responded to US President Barack Obama’s robust defence of the Iran nuclear deal yesterday, in which he claimed that Israel alone opposes the agreement.
Obama’s address at American University came as lobbying intensifies in Washington in advance of a pivotal Congressional vote on the deal. Obama presented a stark choice between the accord and eventual war, saying that, “This is the strongest non-proliferation ever negotiated.” Obama said that although he does not doubt the sincerity of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s opposition to the agreement, it is “the right thing to do for the United States … the right thing to do for Israel.” He also said that, “Because this is such a strong deal … every nation in the world that has commented publicly – with the exception of the Israeli government – has expressed support.”
Commentator Yoaz Hendel disputed Obama’s assertion, saying this morning in Yediot Ahronot, “Israel is not alone in its opposition to the agreement on the Iranian nuclear program … The moderate Arab states are wielding pressure behind the scenes while Israel is doing this upfront, but unfortunately, their success is the same.”
Also in Yediot Ahronot, analyst Ben-Dror Yemini took issue with Obama’s contention that the deal will prevent war, saying, “The president is mistaken. This agreement does not prevent war, rather, it brings it closer because it gives Iran the international legitimacy to build the infrastructure for manufacturing an arsenal of nuclear bombs and because it finances its terror machine.”
Although there has been no formal Israeli government response, an unnamed official told the Jerusalem Post that although Obama correctly notes a nuclear Iran is more dangerous than an Iran with sanctions relief, the agreement hands Tehran both.
Meanwhile, opposition leader Isaac Herzog, who also publicly opposes the nuclear deal, said via social media that the public disagreement “brings smiles to the faces of our enemies and haters who enjoy seeing us bicker before the eyes of the entire world.”