JERUSALEM -- Israeli officials denounced the interim deal reached between six world powers and Iran in Geneva as a “bad deal” Sunday, warning it creates a new reality on the ground that will oblige Israel to make decisions.
According to officials from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office, the deal gave Iran “exactly what it wanted -- a serious lessening of sanctions as well as preserving the most significant parts of its nuclear program.”
The economic pressure Iran is under could have led to “a much better deal” that dismantles its nuclear capabilities, the official told Israeli media.
Netanyahu is expected to comment in person later Sunday, as the Cabinet convenes for its weekly meeting. Reportedly, he is also expecting a phone call from President Obama.
In the meantime, senior government officials reacted harshly to the interim deal in a series of comments made to Israeli media Sunday morning.
Calling it “Iran’s greatest diplomatic victory” since the Islamic revolution, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said recognizing Iran’s right to enrich uranium to any degree at all casts the region into a “nuclear arms race.”
In light of an “entirely new reality,” Israel will have to reassess the situation and reach decisions, the foreign minister said, adding that all options remain on the table.
Israel alone is responsible for its fate and will reach decisions in an “independent, responsible and sober” way, said Lieberman.
Yuval Steinitz, minister of intelligence and strategic affairs and entrusted with the Iranian issue for the government, criticized the deal as too similar to that previously reached with, and violated by, North Korea.
“Israel cannot partake in the international celebration that is based on Iranian deception and self-delusion,” Steinitz said, sending a barbed message to the western powers. Changes introduced at the last moment were “far from satisfactory” and the deal remains a “bad one,” Steinitz said.
Despite Israel’s disappointment, it will continue to insist on its positions and “work together with our friends in the U.S. and the world” toward a comprehensive final agreement, said the minister.
Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon denounced the deal as “excellent for Iran” and “extremely dangerous for the free world.” Israel has the “capability and responsibility to defend itself” with any means necessary, he said in a statement.
Concerned over the agreement itself as well as Israel’s slipping international standing, Finance Minister Yair Lapid said Israel now faces two tasks: “to make sure the final agreement is better for Israel, and “restore the intimacy in our relations with the U.S.”