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Kerry’s Fear: Naftali Bennett

Kerry advice to senators to ‘ignore Israel’ part of desperate attempt to counter Bennett’s pro-sanctions campaign.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 11/14/2013, 11:52 AM

John Kerry
John Kerry
AFP file

United States Secretary of State John Kerry is apparently afraid of Minister of Economy Naftali Bennett’s visit to the United States.

Kerry made headlines early Thursday for advising U.S. Senators to “stop listening to the Israelis” when it comes to Iran’s nuclear program.

His controversial comments came as Bennett is in the U.S to meet with senators and congressmen from both the Republican and Democratic parties, and to urge them to delay approval of any agreement with Iran that includes easing sanctions.

Analysts say the timing is no coincidence. Kerry fears that Bennett will be successful in arguing that sanctions are still necessary, they explained.

That would be a blow to Kerry’s own campaign to convince senators that no new sanctions are needed.

White House spokesman Jay Carney has joined Kerry in pushing against sanctions. He used unusually strong language to warn Congress against sanctions this week, arguing that fresh sanctions would send America on a “march to war.”

In related news, a spokeswoman for the American Foreign Ministry has rejected assessments made by Minister of Strategic Affairs Yuval Steinitz. Steinitz said that under a proposed deal, roughly 40% of the sanctions against Iran would be lifted – meaning an additional 40 billion dollars a year for the country.

The spokeswoman declined to give details of the proposal, but said that Steinitz’s assessment was “exaggerated.”