Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu issued his first public reaction to yesterday's announcement of a "framework deal" between Iran and the P5+1 world powers over Tehran's nuclear plan.
"This deal would pose a grave danger to the region and to the world and would threaten the very survival of the State of Israel," Netanyahu said. "The deal would not shut down a single nuclear facility in Iran, would not destroy a single centrifuge in Iran and will not stop R&D on Iran's advanced centrifuges.
"On the contrary. The deal would legitimize Iran's illegal nuclear program. It would leave Iran with a vast nuclear infrastructure. A vast nuclear infrastructure remains in place."
"The deal would lift sanctions almost immediately - and this at the very time that Iran is stepping up its aggression and terror in the region and beyond the region," the prime minister added. "In a few years, the deal would remove the restrictions on Iran's nuclear program, enabling Iran to have a massive enrichment capacity that it could use to produce many nuclear bombs within a matter of months."
"The deal would greatly bolster Iran's economy. It would give Iran thereby tremendous means to propel its aggression and terrorism throughout the Middle East.
"Such a deal does not block Iran's path to the bomb. Such a deal paves Iran's path to the bomb. And it might very well spark a nuclear arms race throughout the Middle East and it would greatly increase the risks of terrible war."
Netanyahu once again rejected the notion that the only alternative to the deal was war.
"There is a third alternative – standing firm, increasing the pressure on Iran until a good deal is achieved," he insisted.
Netanyahu concluded by revisiting comments made last week by the head of Iran's Basij state militia reaffirming the Islamic Republic's commitment to Israel's destruction.
"Iran is a regime that openly calls for Israel's destruction and openly and actively works towards that end.
"Just two days ago, in the midst of the negotiations in Lausanne, the commander of the Basij security forces in Iran said this: 'The destruction of Israel is non-negotiable.'
"Well, I want to make clear to all. The survival of Israel is non-negotiable.
"Israel will not accept an agreement which allows a country that vows to annihilate us to develop nuclear weapons, period.
"In addition, Israel demands that any final agreement with Iran will include a clear and unambiguous Iranian recognition of Israel's right to exist."
The prime minister's words come shortly after a three-hour meeting with his cabinet Friday ended with a unanimous rejection of the "framework deal" with Iran over its nuclear program.
The deal, announced yesterday at a joint conference in Switzerland and widely celebrated as a "victory" in Iran, was quickly lauded by US President Barack Obama as an "historic" agreement.
"I am convinced that if this framework leads to a final comprehensive deal it will make our country, our allies and our world safer," Obama asserted, insisting that despite criticisms the agreement would effectively cut off any options for Iran to build a nuclear bomb.
But despite Obama's claim that there was "no daylight" between the US's commitment to Israel's security and the framework deal, Israeli officials heavily criticized it as an "historic mistake".
"If an agreement is reached on the basis of this framework, it is an historic mistake which will make the world far more dangerous," said the officials, briefing journalists on condition of anonymity.
"It is a bad framework which will lead to a bad and dangerous agreement. The framework gives international legitimacy to Iran's nuclear program, the only aim of which is to produce a nuclear bomb," they added.
During a conversation with Obama following the announcement, Netanyahu voiced his own strong objections to the deal, branding it a threat to Israel's very survival.
"A deal based on this framework would threaten the survival of Israel,” Netanyahu told Obama, according to the statement.
“Just two days ago, Iran said that ‘the destruction of Israel is non-negotiable,’ and in these fateful days Iran is accelerating the arming of its terror proxies to attack Israel.”
“This deal would legitimize Iran's nuclear program, bolster Iran's economy, and increase Iran's aggression and terror throughout the Middle East and beyond. Such a deal would not block Iran's path to the bomb. It would pave it,” warned Netanyahu.
“It would increase the risks of nuclear proliferation in the region and the risks of a horrific war. The alternative is standing firm and increasing the pressure on Iran until a better deal is achieved," Netanyahu told Obama.
In Congress as well - where legislators on both sides of the aisle have expressed serious concerns over the pending deal - House Speaker John Boehner branded the agreement "an alarming departure" from the president's own declared goals. Nevertheless, legislators have given the White House a three-month reprieve on a bill to level harsher sanctions against Iran.