Published November 15, 2013
JERUSALEM – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took to Twitter on Friday to keep up pressure on Western powers over negotiations with Iran on its contested nuclear program and to warn against rushing into a "bad deal."
In his latest salvo against making concessions to Iran, Netanyahu's Twitter account featured a cartoon-like ad that detailed what he said the pending agreement included.
"The proposal enables Iran to develop atomic bombs and build long-range missiles to reach the U.S. and Europe," it read. "Iran is getting everything and giving nothing."
Netanyahu has been increasingly vocal in recent days about his opposition to a potential deal between six Western powers and Iran that would lift some sanctions while still leaving Iran with uranium-enrichment capabilities. Netanyahu has said he utterly rejects the brewing agreement and has been lobbying American allies in Congress to keep up sanctions.
The approach has strained relations with U.S. President Barack Obama's administration, which has asked Congress to hold off sanctions while negotiations are underway.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said she saw the tweet Friday but had no response to it. She reiterated though that Israel and the United States had the same goal of preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.
"The place where we diverge a bit is on the tactical level, where we believe we need a first step that halts Iran's program to give us time to negotiate this long-term agreement and they believe we should just keep upping the pressure on Iran to get them to capitulate all at once to a long-term agreement," Psaki said. "We don't, obviously, think that's a path that is possible."
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with Netanyahu three times last week in Israel to discuss the negotiations and Obama followed up with a phone call to try and ease the Israeli leader's concerns. Israel considers Iran an arch-enemy and has vowed to do anything, including a military strike, to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.
But the soothing attempts seem to have done little to quell Netanyahu's concerns.
On Thursday night, he told a group of visiting Jewish youths that he was not impressed by reports that Iran has not expanded its nuclear facilities and said further sanctions were needed to pressure it into dropping its nuclear program entirely.
"People say: `If we don't strike this bad deal with Iran, Iran will walk away from the deal.' Well, I have news for you. They're not going to walk away from this deal. It's a dream deal for them," Netanyahu said. "But I guarantee you one thing. Israel will not allow Iran to get nuclear weapons."
Israeli President Shimon Peres, the country's elder statesman, has tried to tone down the tensions, stressing the importance of Israel's relationship with the U.S. and saying it should never be taken for granted
"We must not underestimate the importance of this friendship. There can be disagreements, but they must be conducted with a view to the true depth of the situation," he said. "If we have disagreements, we should voice them but we should remember that the Americans also know a thing or two. We are not the only ones."