Netanyahu Smacks down British Foreign Secretary over Iran Deal Comments

Netanyahu Hammond (Debbie Hill / AFP / Getty)
Debbie Hill / AFP / Getty

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had strong words for British Foreign Minister Philip Hammond at a joint news conference in Jerusalem on Thursday, telling him that western powers had failed to achieve a deal that prevented Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.

The day before, Hammond had told Parliament: “The question you have to ask yourself is what kind of a deal would have been welcomed in Tel Aviv. The answer of course is that Israel doesn’t want any deal with Iran. Israel wants a permanent state of standoff, and I don’t believe that’s in the interests of the region. I don’t believe it’s in our interest.” He added: The real alternative to a deal that prevents Iran building a nuclear bomb almost at some stage would have been war. What we have averted with this agreement is the threat and a prospect of a war.”

Netanyahu took the opportunity on Thursday to remind his guest that the capital of Israel is not Tel Aviv but Jerusalem, where they stood.

He then reminded Hammond that he had pushed for a diplomatic alternative that would “compel Iran to choose between a path to the bomb and sanctions relief.” The new Iran deal, he suggested, had given Iran both sanctions relief and a path to the bomb at the same time.

“We would have wanted to see a deal that says the following: ‘Iran, you will get the easing on the restrictions on your nuclear program, and you will get sanctions relief, if you change your behavior first. In fact, there is no requirement for any change of behavior on the part of Iran, which is what makes this deal so fundamentally flawed.” Netanyahu paused, turning to Hammond: “Would you like to continue?” he asked.

Hammond, in an effort to ease tensions and save face, quipped: “I think what we’ve proved is we don’t need journalists to have a Q&A.”

Video via the UK Guardian