Netanyahu Welcomes Iran Deal Postponement

PM urges West to use seven-month extension to toughen its stance on Iran; also says he is 'determined' to pass Jewish State law.

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Hezki Baruch, Tova Dvorin,

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Netanyahu speaks
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Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu addressed news of the extension of Iranian nuclear talks Monday, in remarks made at the opening of the Likud faction meeting in the Knesset. 

"We are anxiously monitoring the nuclear talks with Iran. We are also using our contacts and expressing our views, directly as well, in the international media, in my contacts with the American administration and other heads of government, in [Intelligence] Minister [Yuval] Steinitz's contacts with various security elements, in contacts with ministers in these governments and in the work of the National Security Council," Netanyahu stated. "I think that an important thing happened today."

"We have always said that no agreement is preferable to a bad agreement and the agreement that Iran signed is a very bad and dangerous agreement for Israel, for the region and in my opinion for the future of the entire world," he continued. "It is very important that this agreement has been prevented as of now but a struggle is yet before us and we intend to continue this struggle in order to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear threshold state that would endanger us and others. Israel will always act on this matter and reserves its right to defend itself by itself." 

Earlier Monday, Netanyahu explained his position in a BBC interview.

"Well, I think Iran should not have any capacity to enrich," he stated. "There's no right to enrich. What do you need to enrich uranium for if you're not developing an atomic bomb? They are. How do we know that? Because they're developing intercontinental ballistic missiles. What do you do with such missiles? The only reason you build ICBMs is to launch a nuclear warhead."

"So Iran, I think everybody understands, is unabashedly seeking to develop atomic bombs and I think they shouldn't have the capacity either to enrich uranium or to deliver nuclear warheads. And I think that's the position that the P5+1, the leading powers of the world, should take."

"Determined" to pass Jewish State law

Netanyahu also addressed the controversial decision to postpone the preliminary Knesset reading for the Jewish State bill, stating that he is "determined" to ensure that the Jewish State bill is ratified into law - no matter who, or what, opposes him. 

"This law is very important to ensure the future of Israel and the Land of Israel," Netanyahu said. "I have to say that the law and the principles I am promoting maintain Israel as the Jewish people while maintaining the rights of any minority."

Netanyahu qualified this, however, by saying that he is not inherently opposed to dialogue over the bill's content. 

"I am willing to give a chance to dialogue and come to an agreement," Netanyahu said, but added that he would push the bill through even if those ministers opposed did not support it.

When asked by a reporter whether the political storm surrounding this law will lead to elections, Netanyahu said: "Time will tell." 

The 'Jewish State Law' is comprised of two bills by three MKs: Ze'ev Elkin (Likud), Yariv Levin (Likud), and Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home). Both bills, which are similar in their principles, effectively raise the Jewish influence on the legal system, elevating it over the "democratic" elements of Israel's identity as a "democratic and Jewish state."

The bills thrust the coalition into crisis, however, after the government decided Sunday upon Netanyahu's insistence that all coalition MKs and ministers will be bound by coalition discipline in the vote, and must vote in favor of it - despite vocal opposition from Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who has vowed to vote against it. 

The decision to defer the preliminary Knesset vote stemmed primarily from Foreign Minister and Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman, who maintained that finding an acceptable compromise over the bill - even if it takes time - is preferable to early elections.