The US State Department rejected over the weekend Israel’s demand that any final deal with Iran on its nuclear program include recognition of Israel’s right to exist, saying that was not the issue at hand.
“This is an agreement that is only about the nuclear issue,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters on Friday night, according to Fox News. “This is an agreement that doesn’t deal with any other issues, nor should it.”
Meanwhile the New York Times reported that the White House was already making intense efforts to sell the emerging deal to a reluctant Congress, in order to prevent legislators from blocking the accord.
Since the deal was announced on Thursday senior members of President Barack Obama’s staff, including Vice President Joe Biden, Chief of Staff Denis McDonough and National Security Adviser Susan Rice, have been phoning their colleagues in the House and the Senate as well as Jewish lobbying groups to convince them of the agreement’s merits, the Times reported.
Following the announcement by Iran and six world powers that they had reached a framework for a final nuclear deal, to be finalized by June 30, Prime Minister Netanyahu said he and his government were united in “strongly opposing” the agreement.
Netanyahu said after a cabinet session Friday that “Israel will not accept an agreement which allows a country that vows to annihilate us to develop nuclear weapons, period.”
However, he also acknowledged the possibility of a final agreement being reached, and said that such a deal must “include a clear and unambiguous Iranian recognition of Israel’s right to exist.”