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Netanyahu in Rome Unwilling to 'Bow Head' on Iran

Despite US pressure Israeli PM reiterates opposition to Iran nuclear deal on Rome trip, meets Pope Francis at Vatican.
By Ari Yashar
First Publish: 12/2/2013, 2:42 PM

Binyamin Netanyahu with  Italian PM Enrico Letta at the Great Synagogue of Rome
Binyamin Netanyahu with Italian PM Enrico Letta at the Great Synagogue of Rome
Flash 90

On Sunday, during a visit to Rome, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu adamantly reiterated his opposition to the recent Iran nuclear deal at a Hanukkah menorah lighting ceremony at the Great Synagogue of Rome, saying Iran threatens "not only Israel but also Italy, Europe and the entire world." The following day Netanyahu met Pope Francis in the Vatican.

During Netanyahu's first meeting with the pope, who took his post in March, the two held closed-door talks for 25 minutes.

Netanyahu presented the pope with a Spanish translation of his father Bentzion Netanyahu's book "The Origins of the Inquisition in Fifteenth Century Spain," which featured a dedication to "Pope Francis, a great shepherd of our common heritage."

Pope Francis recently announced plans to visit Jordan in 2014, and possibly visit Israel as well. The trip is likely to occur in late May according to sources.

Netanyahu is in Rome accompanied by six ministers, including Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman. Aside from the pope, Netanyahu is also set to meet his Italian counterpart Enrico Letta, and hold a joint session with the Italian cabinet.

On Sunday at Rome's main synagogue, Netanyahu was outspoken in his criticism of the Iran nuclear deal, despite US President Barack Obama's reported request last week that Netanyahu "be less vocal" about the Islamic regime's nuclear program.

The US rhetoric against Netanyahu has increased recently. Israeli TV revealed Sunday that senior US officials have attacked the Israeli Prime Minister's oposition to the Iran deal, calling him "desperate and weak."

Perhaps in response to the growing pressure placed on him, Netanyahu in Rome said "it is very easy to receive a pat on the shoulder from the international community, to bow one's head," but that he was unwilling to do so.

Netanyahu then reiterated his warnings, saying "I would like to dispel any illusions. Iran aspires to attain an atomic bomb. It would thus threaten not only Israel but also Italy, Europe and the entire world."

He added that the Iranian regime "supports terrorism, facilitates the massacre of civilians in Syria and unceasingly arms its proxies" such as Hezbollah in Lebanon.