US Admonishes Israel not to 'Betray' its Trust

Top spokespeople warn against revealing details, after Israeli official says Netanyahu will outline Iran deal in Congress.

Ari Yashar ,

White House spokesman Josh Earnest
White House spokesman Josh Earnest

Top spokespeople for US President Barack Obama's administration on Monday night echoed warnings that a release of classified information on Iran talks would be a "betrayal," after an unnamed official was quoted saying Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will detail the deal being formed with Iran in his US Congress address Tuesday.

Earlier on Monday an Israeli official said Israel is familiar with the emerging agreement with Iran and that Netanyahu will elaborate on it in
his congressional address, sparking US Secretary of State John Kerry to warn against revealing details - despite his having claimed a week ago that Israel didn't know the details in an attempt to downplay Israeli opposition to the deal.

​Kerry's deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf on Monday night said discussing the contents of classified briefings by US officials to Israelis would "betray" America's trust, reports AFP.

"We've continuously provided detailed classified briefings to Israeli officials to keep them updated and to provide context for how we are approaching getting to a good deal," she told reporters in Washington. "Any release of any kind of information like that would, of course, betray that trust."

That message was reiterated by White House press secretary Josh Earnest on Monday night, who said the White House is "concerned" at how unnamed Israeli officials in several recent reports are using information to "distort" America's negotiating position with Iran.

He said their doing so "is something that is counter-productive, and that we are not appreciative of to put it mildly."

"The United States has been providing our Israeli allies regular detailed classified briefings to give them the context about the progress that we're making in the context of these conversations" with Iran, said Earnest.

Echoing Harf, Earnest added "the release of that information would betray the trust between our allies and it certainly is inconsistent with trust between allies."

The nuclear talks are approaching a March 31 deadline, with Netanyahu warning that the deal being formed will leave Iran with nuclear capabilities and allow it to remain an existential threat to Israel.

Harf's and Earnest's comments come a day before Netanyahu's Congress speech, and come on the heels of reports that America has cut intelligence cooperation with Israel regarding Iran's nuclear program.

On Monday the US denied Israeli reports that it plans to cut defense aid to Israel over the disagreement. Previously another report by a Kuwaiti paper claimed that Obama had threatened to shoot down an IAF strike on Iran's nuclear facilities; the US denied that report as well.