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Netanyahu hits back at Lapid, says he’s ‘given up’ public fight over Iran deal
Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu hits back at Prime Minister Yair Lapid, accusing the latter of having “completely abandoned” the public fight against talks to resume the Iran deal over the past year.
Earlier in the day, Lapid told reporters: “We must not end up in the situation we were in in 2015. To this day, we are paying for the damage caused by Netanyahu’s speech in Congress, following which the The US administration has terminated its dialogue with us and has not allowed Israel to make changes to the agreement.
Under former Prime Minister Netanyahu, Israel fought the original 2015 deal in the court of public opinion and in a particularly controversial direct speech by Netanyahu to the US Congress, coordinated without White House participation. The United States pulled out of the deal under former President Donald Trump in 2018, and under Biden it has been negotiating a return for months.
Lapid and former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett – who is currently vacationing abroad – have shifted the debate to private channels, trying to avoid fallout from the relationship that has occurred between Israel and the Obama administration.
“Last year, Lapid and [Defense Minister Benny Gantz] has completely abandoned the public struggle against the Iran nuclear deal,” Netanyahu said in a statement. “For 12 years, we fought this agreement with determination and even pushed the United States to withdraw from it. But in their one year in office, Lapid and Gantz let their guard down and allowed the United States and Iran to reach a nuclear deal that puts our future at risk.
He accuses Lapid of failing to publicly challenge those efforts in Congress, the UN or foreign media, and of only “waking up” too late after major progress was made in the talks.
He claims as an example of the government’s “powerlessness” that Bennett, currently in charge of Iran-related issues, “is currently on vacation in Italy, on the eve of the signing of the agreement, and in an area without reception”.
Netanyahu also confirmed that he will attend a routine security briefing with Lapid tomorrow at 5 p.m. For most of his tenure as Leader of the Opposition, he refused to personally participate in periodic briefings.