Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will keep campaigning against the Iran nuclear accord even though President Barack Obama has enlisted congressional support to ensure its passage, Israeli officials said.
Obama gained enough Senate votes needed to protect the agreement after Maryland Democrat Barbara Mikulski said Wednesday she will support the accord. With Congress expected to vote against the deal later this month, Republicans had been seeking enough Democratic support in the Senate to override a threatened presidential veto.
The Netanyahu government, along with Washington allies such as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, have lobbied against the agreement, arguing that it doesn’t do enough to prevent the possibility of Iran developing nuclear weapons. The dispute has strained relations between Israel and the U.S.
The prime minister believes he has the responsibility to continue speaking out against a deal that endangers Israel, the region and the world, a senior Israeli official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak on record.
Netanyahu’s vocal opposition to the Iran accord has raised serious questions “about the legitimacy of the agreement going forward, about Iran’s place in American public opinion, about how to deal with Iran and the violations that no one doubts they will will commit,” Immigration Minister Zeev Elkin told Israel Radio.
U.S. officials, including Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro, have called on the Netanyahu to accept the agreement and start preparing for the “day after” its passage. The Israeli leader has delayed important discussions on deepening security cooperation in the deal’s wake, Shapiro said last month.
The head of Israel’s political opposition, Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog, criticized Netanyahu for carrying on a lost battle against an accord that he agrees is deeply flawed.
“The minute this agreement became an established fact, Netanyahu should have stopped wasting time and instead conducted an intensive dialogue with the U.S. to create a strong, regional security arrangement to contend with this development,” Herzog told Israel Radio Thursday.