Yesterday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hosted a webcast with American Jewish participants urging them to oppose the Iran nuke deal. His message reached an estimated 10,000 people, and served as a counter to propaganda spread by pro-deal activists plying the media with misinformation about the motive behind Israel’s opposition.
From the Washington Examiner:
“The deal that was supposed to end nuclear proliferation, will actually trigger nuclear proliferation. It will trigger a nuclear arms race in the Middle East,” contended Netanyahu.
The Israeli Prime Minister, who spoke Tuesday afternoon on a video conference organized by the Jewish Federation of North America, pled with the nearly 10,000 participants to actively speak out against the deal. “The days when the Jewish people could not or would not speak up for themselves, those days are over,” he said. “Today we can speak out. Today we must speak out. And we must do so together.”
Netanyahu, who has been an ardent critic of the deal argued that the agreement would bring Tehran closer to producing a nuclear weapon. “The nuclear deal with Iran doesn’t block Iran’s path to the bomb,” he charged. “It actually paves Iran’s path to the bomb.” In the prime minister’s estimation, if Iran upholds the agreement it could obtain a nuclear weapon within 15 years.
Toward the end of the webcast, PM Netanyahu took questions from participants. Via The Tower:
When asked if there was any deal he would accept, Netanyahu said that he would have accepted a deal that allowed Iran a much lower level of enrichment and made sanctions relief contingent upon Iran changing its behavior. He also pointed out that while proponents of the deal are now saying that the alternative to the deal is war, the administration was saying just a a few weeks ago that the alternative to a bad deal is no deal.
Netanyahu was also asked how he thought Congressional rejection of the deal would effect negotiations. He answered that the sanctions were supposed to make Iran have to choose between its nuclear program and commerce, but that the deal gave them both so that “Iran could have its yellowcake and eat it too.” Netanyahu acknowledged that sanctions could be weakened in the short term by Congressional rejection of the deal, but that the American economy was 40 times the size of the Iranian economy, so businesses, when forced to choose, would choose to do business with the United States.
Meanwhile, President Obama made his case for the deal in a smaller, less exposed setting: he hosted Jewish leaders on both sides of the issue in a closed meeting at the White House. The Administration is preparing for Congress to vote against the deal, so they’re focusing their efforts on trying to convince Democrats not to turn their backs on the party.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told members of the media that the President is confident that he can maintain against an override in the House; the Senate, appears to be a less certain, although Sens. Barbara Boxer, Tim Kaine, and Bill Nelson came out in favor yesterday.
The Administration lost the support of Reps. Steve Israel, Nita Lowey, and Ted Deutch, all three of whom are important Jewish representatives and highly influential in the House chamber. New York Democrat Chuck Schumer, who is widely understood to be next in line to take Harry Reid’s place as leader of the Senate caucus, is showing the strain surrounding what has been called the biggest vote of his career. He reportedly “lost it” in a closed meeting with prominent Jewish leaders, and has refused to hint which way his vote will fall next month.
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