Isaac Herzog, the leader of Israel’s political opposition, whose visceral dislike of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is well-known, has declared that he supports Netanyahu in his efforts to oppose the Iran deal, which the U.S. Congress is about to consider. “I had a meeting yesterday where I learned about the deal and I think it is bad for Israel. [Netanyahu and myself] will certainly cooperate when it comes to the security of Israel. As an Israeli patriot, this deal is dangerous,” Herzog said in an interview quoted by the Times of Israel.
Herzog’s support for Netanyahu will come as a surprise to his left-wing supporters in the United States, including the Obama-backed J Street organization, which supports the Iran deal and supported Herzog’s efforts to unseat Netanyahu in the recent Israeli elections.
All of Israel’s major parties–save the Arab parties–are united in their opposition to the deal, which the Israeli “security cabinet” rejected on Tuesday in a unanimous vote. Left or right, Israelis see a nuclear Iran as an existential threat–and believe the deal will enable a nuclear Iran.
The Israeli government is planning to lobby Congress to reject the deal. It will be a difficult effort, given that opponents of the deal will have to muster a two-thirds supermajority in both houses to override an expected presidential veto of congressional disapproval.
Yet a strategy is rapidly becoming clear: to draw attention to the details of the deal, which are often less than President Barack Obama has advertised; to urge a diplomatic alternative, in the form of continued sanctions and stronger terms; and to hint strongly at an Israeli pre-emptive strike on Iran.
“When we examine this agreement–which is bad in every aspect–when we read this agreement, the picture becomes more bleak and we discover it’s filled with absurdities,” Netanyahu told Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, on Wednesday.
“The agreement that was signed in Vienna is not the final word….One who speaks truth about this agreement is the president of Iran, who said that Iran has achieved all its objectives…For existential [threats] there is no coalition or opposition. We need a united front to ensure our survival,” Netanyahu said.