Israel would be in a better position to improve the impending nuclear deal between Tehran and the West if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had not harmed relations with the US, Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.
“If things were as they used to be in the relationship between Israel and the United States, we would be able to make some impact and change this deal for the better of Israel,” Lapid said in an interview for the Jerusalem Post Election Arena, available in full on JPost.com.
Ties between the prime minister and US President Barack Obama, which have never been warm, hit a nadir when Netanyahu accepted an invitation from House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican, to address a joint session of Congress on the Iran issue. The White House was not consulted, and the speech was seen as a move to undermine the negotiations.
Asked how Israel should handle the prospect of a nuclear agreement, Lapid said, “You should do it quietly, not poking the United States president in the chest.” Because of the speech, an Iran sanctions bill sponsored by Sens. Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey) and Mark Kirk (R-Illinois) lost bipartisan support. The administration and its European partners had warned that passage of such a bill would collapse negotiations altogether.
Yet Lapid threw his support behind the now-defunct sanctions bill, saying that it was “everything we hoped for,” because it put “extra sanctions on Iran in the right moment.”
“If not for this speech, the Kirk-Menendez bill would have been served to the Congress, and even if it was vetoed by the president, I think Israel with AIPAC would have been able, along with our friends on the Hill, to even overthrow a veto, getting two-thirds of the votes,” Lapid said.