Israeli lawmakers lashed out at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday for publicly criticizing the United States’ negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program.
Netanyahu has in recent weeks launched a public campaign, including numerous appearances on American news programs, seemingly aimed at scuttling any potential deal in works between the U.S, its international partners and Iran. The Israeli prime minister has repeatedly called the reported agreement “a bad deal” — despite the fact that the definitive contours of any deal have yet to be made public.
Member of the Knesset Yitzhak Herzog of the opposition Labor Party criticized the prime minister this weekend. “It’s okay to have disagreements with [U.S. Secretary of State John] Kerry, but not publicly,” he said according to the Times of Israel. “I urge the prime minister to stop this very public journey [on Iran].”
Herzog speculated that Netanyahu’s public criticism will isolate Israel:
He added that Netanyahu’s concern over the Iranian nuclear program is one “that we all agree with,” but that his manner may lead the Iranians to accelerate their nuclear program, causing “Israel to lose international support on the issue without actually achieving a thing.”
MK Zahava Gal-on, leader of the left-wing Meretz party, also criticized Netanyahu’s campaign. “Netanyahu doesn’t object, as he wrote on his Facebook page, to a ‘bad agreement with Iran,’ but to any agreement that’s directly negotiated between the United States and Iran,” she said, according to the Times. “[I]t’s in Israel’s interest to support the US goal of preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons through a diplomatic agreement that will employ stringent monitoring and verification, and not the winds of war.”
The MKs’ criticism lines up with former Israeli military intelligence chief Amos Yadlin’s comments earlier this month that Netanyahu is “crying wolf too early” on the Iran deal. “The real judgment of whether it’s a bad deal or an acceptable deal will be in the end of the negotiating period,” he said.
Another former top Israeli security official recently praised the U.S. position on Iran. “The American policy is a policy of wisdom,” said former Shin Bet chief Carmi Gillon. “In my eyes, American policy is not coming out of weakness. It comes out of power.”
“The Obama administration’s overtures to Iran are straining the U.S. alliance with Israel in ways not seen in decades,” the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday. And White House press secretary Jay Carney warned last week that impediments to diplomacy with Iran risk war. “The American people justifiably and understandably prefer a peaceful solution that prevents Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, and this agreement, if it’s achieved, has the potential to do that,” Carney said. “The alternative is military action.”
The six world powers — the U.S., U.K., France, China, Russia and Germany — and Iran will convene again this week in Geneva to resume negotiations. A senior U.S. official told Reuters that it’s “quite possible” that an agreement can be reached.