Netanyahu attacks Lapid for Israel’s “no surprises” agreement with U.S.
Israeli opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday he rejected requests by the Biden administration to inform the United States in advance of Israeli operations against Iran’s nuclear program, and falsely claimed that the minister Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid made such a pledge to Secretary of State Antony Blinken last week.
Why is this important: Since realizing he would be ousted as prime minister, Netanyahu has planned a months-long campaign against the Biden administration and the new Bennett government over the Iran nuclear deal. Netanyahu wants to be the face of Israel’s opposition to the deal at home and in Washington – and he’s pushing the issue.
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Netanyahu attacks Lapid
Driving the news: Lapid spoke to Blinken last Thursday for the second time since taking office. He issued a brief statement after the call stressing that he agreed with the secretary of state on a “no surprises” policy, without specifically mentioning Iran.
- On Monday, Netanyahu’s office told reporters he was going to make an important foreign policy statement. When reporters arrived at the Likud faction’s meeting in the Knesset, they discovered that Netanyahu was planning to politically attack Lapid.
What they say: Netanyahu falsely claimed that Lapid was committed to a “no surprises” policy on Iran and said the State Department issued a statement about it – a claim that was also false.
- Netanyahu said Lapid’s alleged engagement undermined Israel’s national security, claiming that the foreign minister had given up Israel’s freedom of operations against Iran’s nuclear program and its sovereign right to self-defense.
- Netanyahu claimed to have rejected such a “no surprises” request from President Biden in one of their phone calls, as well as a similar request from Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin during his last visit to Israel.
- “I told them that I would take their request into consideration, but I stressed that on existential issues, I would maintain Israel’s freedom of operation without any notice requirement,” Netanyahu said.
- He said Lapid’s deal with Blinken sends a signal of weakness to Iran and to a Biden administration “rushing towards the dangerous nuclear deal with Iran.”
- Lapid responded in a brief statement calling Netanyahu’s remarks false: “I thank the Leader of the Opposition for his advice.
Netanyahu attacks Lapid
Between the lines: Despite his attacks on Lapid for the “no surprises” deal with Blinken, a similar deal existed when Netanyahu was prime minister just over a week ago.
- In March, Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi officially declared that he agreed with Blinken on a mutual “no surprises” policy regarding nuclear talks with Iran. Netanyahu, then prime minister, did not back down at the time.
- Several weeks later, the Biden administration even complained to Israeli officials that the explosion of the Natanz nuclear power plant in Iran, which the Iranian government blamed on the Israeli Mossad, was a violation of the agreement “unsurprisingly. Between the two countries.
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