Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denounced world powers’ nuclear deal with Iran as a “historic mistake” and declared that Israel is “not bound” by the accord.
“Sweeping concessions were made in all of the areas meant to block Iran from the ability to arm itself with nuclear weapons,” Netanyahu said, according to an e-mailed statement from his office. “We have made a commitment to block Iran from arming itself with nuclear weapons, and that commitment stands.”
Diplomats from Iran and six world powers reached an accord early Tuesday in Vienna that curbs the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program in return for easing restrictions that slashed oil exports and cut off the country from global finance. Iran denies allegations by Israel, the U.S. and Europe that its nuclear program may be a cover to build atomic weapons.
Advisers to Netanyahu have said Israel will lobby the U.S. Congress to try to kill the deal. Legislation passed in May gives the Republican-controlled legislature 60 days to review an agreement that’s been criticized by both Republicans and Democrats.
“The prime minister is going to pursue with every available means at his disposal, his efforts of persuasion directed at the Congress, and American public opinion in general,” Zalman Shoval, a Netanyahu adviser and two-time ambassador to the U.S., said before the deal was announced.
“Israel is not bound by this deal with Iran because Iran continues to seek our destruction,” Netanyahu said later in remarks broadcast from his office in Jerusalem. “We will always defend ourselves.”
In Washington on Tuesday, President Barack Obama said he’d veto any bill to block the accord because no deal means “a greater chance of more war in the Middle East.” He assured Israel that the U.S. would continue its “unprecedented efforts to strengthen” its security.
The Israeli parliament’s foreign affairs and defense committee said it will hold an “urgent” meeting on the deal Wednesday. Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon warned of “massive funds” that would be funneled into terrorism with the lifting of sanctions.
Israeli opposition leaders have joined Netanyahu in condemning the agreement, while questioning his methods of challenging U.S. policy, including a March speech to Congress over White House objections. Disagreement over Iran has strained ties between the close allies, bringing the relationship to its lowest point in decades.
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“Israel’s interests have been forfeited,” in part because of a “personal rift” between Netanyahu and the U.S president, opposition leader Isaac Herzog of the Zionist Union party said in a Facebook post. “It is incumbent on us to act wisely, rationally, with restraint and good judgment until we learn all the details of the agreement,” Herzog wrote.