Following a Tuesday night emergency session of the Security Cabinet, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu defended his record even as he blasted the Iran nuclear deal signed Tuesday between world powers and the Islamic Republic.
"I come here from a discussion in the Security Cabinet. The Cabinet unanimously rejected the major powers' nuclear agreement with Iran and it determined that Israel is not bound by it," said Netanyahu.
The prime minister reported on his phone conversation with US President Barack Obama, noting that he "expressed Israel's two major concerns regarding this agreement, after having examined it."
First, he noted that the deal "allows Iran to develop extensive capabilities that will serve it in arming itself with nuclear weapons, whether at the end of the period of the agreement in another 10-15 years, or earlier if it violates the agreement." In a second point, he added that "the agreement channels hundreds of billions of dollars to Iran's terrorism and war machine, a war that is directed against us and against others in the region."
"The world's leading powers have gambled on our common future in a deal with the main financer and operator of global terrorism. This is a historic mistake! We were right when we said that the desire to sign an agreement is apparently stronger than anything else; therefore, we did not commit to prevent the agreement. We did commit to prevent Iran from arming itself with nuclear weapons – and this commitment stands."
He then referred to the claims by several of his political opponents, such as Yesh Atid head Yair Lapid, according to which tension between Netanyahu and Obama was to blame for the deal.
"The claim heard from political elements to the effect that the personal relationship between myself and President Obama affected the nuclear agreement is absurd. Even before I took office as Prime Minister, there was an intention on the part of the American administration to normalize relations with Iran. Afterward, the US began secret negotiations with Iran which then became open. Of course, the desire to make an agreement brought about the result that it did."
Netanyahu then tried to defend his record by pointing out his opposition to the Iran deal, first by leading the call for sanctions against Iran at the UN, and then his address at the US Congress in March to emphasize the threat of the deal.
"At present there is one mission – to ensure that it (Iran) does not arm itself with nuclear weapons in the future. And at this time, in the face of such a mission, we cannot indulge in petty politics and false accusations," rebuked Netanyahu.
"This is the time to unite and create a united front on a fateful issue for the future of the State of Israel. In any case, we will continue to defend ourselves by ourselves against all who threaten our destruction."
Before the cabinet meeting, Netanyahu made the following statement in English on the Iran deal: