The back and forth banter between Israel and the United States over Iran’s nuclear aspirations continued on Wednesday, as Secretary of State John Kerry questioned Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s judgment when it comes to Iran.
The comments, according to The Huffington Post, came as Kerry was testifying before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Committee member Rep. Albio Sires (D-N.J.) pointed to Netanyahu’s upcoming address to the Congress as evidence of the weakness of the deal being negotiated between Iran and the six world powers.
“The Prime Minister was also profoundly forward-leaning and very outspoken about the importance of invading Iraq and George W. Bush,” Kerry shot back, referring to Netanyahu.
The Secretary of State, who voted in favor of the Iraq war while serving in the Senate, added that Netanyahu "was extremely outspoken about how bad the interim agreement was, calling it the ‘deal of the century for Iran.’”
He was referring to the deal reached between the sides in November of 2013, under which Iran committed to limit its uranium enrichment to five percent and is gradually winning access to $4.2 billion of its oil revenues frozen abroad and some other sanctions relief.
"Israel is safer today with the added time we have given and the stoppage of the advances in the nuclear program than they were before we got that agreement, which, by the way, the prime minister opposed," Kerry claimed, according to The Huffington Post. "He was wrong."
The comments mark the second time in as many days that Kerry has taken a jab at Israel and Netanyahu. On Tuesday, he was not as direct, not mentioning Netanyahu by name but saying that those voicing their opposition to deal being negotiated with Iran over its nuclear program are "uninformed."
"The President has made clear – I can't state this more firmly: the policy is Iran will not get a nuclear weapon. Anybody running around right now, jumping to say well, we don't like the deal, or this or that, doesn't know what the deal is. There is no deal yet," Kerry told a Congressional hearing.
His comments followed a statement by Netanyahu earlier in the day in which the prime minister said information he'd received showed a looming deal between Iran and world powers would allow the Islamic Republic to reach the nuclear threshold.
On Wednesday, Kerry warned lawmakers against judging an agreement that has not yet been reached. His entreaty was largely ignored by some members of the committee, including Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), who told the secretary that it is a matter of “when,” not “if” Iran cheats on its obligations under any nuclear deal that is agreed to.
Sires urged Kerry to recall his days as a senator and to understand that it is difficult for Congress to quietly wait to be handed what he called a “fait accompli” on Iran’s nuclear program.