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Israeli Leaders Echo Netanyahu Doubts Over Interim Iran Deal

Israeli leaders from across the political spectrum have begun echoing the deep skepticism expressed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu regarding this weekend’s interim deal between the P5+1 and Iran. Netanyahu blasted the agreement as a “historic mistake” and committed Jerusalem to acting in the “diplomatic arena” and “in other areas” to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who as head of Israel’s center-left Hatnuah party ran against Netanyahu and his Likud party in the last elections, expressed similar sentiments:

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni addressed the interim nuclear deal that was achieved between Iran and the world powers to Ynet special broadcast and said: This is a terrible deal that will threaten not only us, but the entire world.”

So did Israel’s Finance Minister, Yair Lapid, who’s center-left party opposed Netanyahu in January’s election capturing the energy of the country’s widespread social protests, taking 19 seats in the 120-seat Knesset. Lapid is know to have strong admirers in the Obama Administration and widely considered to speak for the Israeli-everyman. Speaking to Israel Army Radio he was direct:

“I don’t understand how the French Foreign Minister can call an agreement that doesn’t involve the dismantling of one centrifuge a ‘victory.’ I can’t understand the world’s failure to notice the nineteen thousand Iranian centrifuges.

“Obviously a deal is better than a war, but not this deal,” he said. “Netanyahu did everything he could and we all stand behind him on this.”

So did Economics and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett, who as head of Israel’s center-right Jewish Home party also ran against Netanyahu:

Economics and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home) said Saturday that a “bad deal” with Iran on curbing its nuclear program would “increase the need for Israeli [military] action… If there will be a deal which would allow Iran to have the ability to ‘break out’ and build a bomb within six weeks, we cannot sit idly by in this situation and we will examine all the options,” Bennett told Channel 2 Saturday evening.

So did Minister of Intelligence Yuval Steinitz, from Netanyahu’s own Likud party:

Minister of Intelligence Yuval Steinitz today responded to the agreement signed earlier this morning between the six powers and Iran. “The changes that were inserted into the agreement at the last moment are far from satisfactory in our opinion, and the agreement was and remains a bad agreement that will make it harder to achieve a suitable solution in the future,” he said.

[Photo: Abir Sultan / Reuters]