BY EDEN FARBER / AJT //
America made a new deal with Iran this week — one that greatly displeased Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. The deal meant that America would relieve the sanctions on Iran in exchange for temporarily reducing the uranium enrichment. The current uranium enrichment is about 20 percent, and this deal would limit it to under four percent—but only for the next six months.
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There are a number of reasons that Israel has found this deal to be offensive. In a statement on Friday, Netanyahu stated: “[Kerry] said that no deal is better than a bad deal. And the deal that is being discussed in Geneva right now is a bad deal.”
Aside from being “bad,” the deal contradicts Israeli foreign policy in a couple areas — making the difference between U.S. and Israeli policy more distinct right now, for better or worse. Israel wants a solution, not a temporary deal; Israel wants to end all uranium enrichment and plutonium production (Arak facility), while this deal only halts some of it temporarily.
In a stronger statement, Netanyahu decreed: “It’s a dangerous deal because it keeps Iran as a nuclear threshold nation and it may very well bring about a situation where the sanctions are dissolved or collapsed… When it comes to the question of Jewish survival and the survival of the Jewish state, I will not be silenced, ever. Not on my watch. When the Jewish people were silent on matters relating to our survival, you know what happened.”
All in all, the deal creates a pause, but gives no closure to the situation at hand.
France, who usually stays out of the conversation, joined last minute to add their two-cents. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius echoed most of Netanyahu’s concerns. He also mentioned the allowance for continual (though minimized) uranium and plutonium production in Iran—a danger that should not be left alone.
Not only has Netanyahu disagreed with the Secretary of State’s policies this week, but in an interview on Israel’s Channel 2, Kerry made some statements about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that left Israel in a compromised position.
“The alternative to getting back to the talks is the potential of chaos,” Kerry said during the interview. “I mean, does Israel want a Third Intifada?” he asked. “Israel says, ‘Oh, we feel safe today, we have the wall. We’re not in a day-to-day conflict. I’ve got news for you. Today’s status quo will not be tomorrow’s…” Israel’s neighbors, he warned, will “begin to push in a different way.”
This statement created a certain uproar among the Jewish Zionist activists; Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said, “The danger [of Kerry’s comments] is that you legitimate an escalation by saying that ‘because there is no progress it can start an intifada.’ There are elements there that will use this to legitimize what [the Palestinians] are doing.”
As a response to the Kerry interview, Moshe Ya’alon, Israeli Defense Minister, said there is “no need to fear threats of whether there will or won’t be a third intifada.”