Netanyahu implores US Jews to oppose Iran deal05 august 2015, 10:50
Benjamin Netanyahu personally called on US Jewish groups to thwart a White House-backed Iran nuclear deal Tuesday, while hitting out at "disinformation" over Israel's trenchant stance against it, AFP reports.
"The claim that we oppose this deal because we want war is not just false, it's outrageous," the Israeli prime minister said in a webcast hosted by Jewish American groups, who said it reached an estimated 10,000 people.
"I don't oppose this deal because I want war, I oppose this because I want to prevent war and this deal will bring war. It will spark a nuclear arms race in the region."
In the midst of a bitter and sometimes personal dispute with Barack Obama, Netanyahu insisted his opposition is "not about me and it is not about President Obama, it's about the deal."
The agreement would curb Iran's nuclear program in return for international sanctions relief.
Netanyahu said that instead of preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon it would "pave the way" for Iran to get one, while legitimizing Tehran's leadership.
"Do I believe that President Obama thinks this is the best way to address the Iranian nuclear threat? Yes, I think he does," he said.
"Would I prefer not to have this agreement? Absolutely."
Netanyahu has infuriated the White House by actively opposing what Obama sees as a way to avoid a military conflagration with Iran and a signature foreign policy achievement of his presidency.
Obama pointedly refused to meet Netanyahu when he traveled to Washington in March to argue against the deal before the Republican dominated US Congress.
"This is not a partisan issue in Israel," Netanyahu said Tuesday, "it should not be a partisan issue in the United States."
That may be wishful thinking. Republicans have roundly condemned the deal and vowed to vote it down in Congress.
Tensions ahead of vote
That has triggered a ferocious battle for US public opinion, including within the Jewish community.
Key Democrats such New York Senator Charles Schumer have yet to voice their opinion on the deal in public and may hold the key to victory or defeat.
A "no" vote would not automatically kill the deal, but it would force Obama to issue a veto and to rally enough Democratic votes to uphold it.
Schumer's public agnosticism reflects the deep divisions the deal has caused with America's politically attuned Jewish community.
Groups like right-leaning AIPAC (The American Israel Public Affairs Committee) and left-leaning J-Street have engaged in a multimillion-dollar public relations faceoff.
Netanyahu's webcast was hosted by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and the Jewish Federations of North America.
Meanwhile federations, individual organizations, Rabbis and Rabbinical assemblies are being pressed to take a stance.
Obama is expected to host Jewish leaders at the White House later on Tuesday.
He received a boost from news that influential Democrat Senators Barbara Boxer, Tim Kaine and Ben Nelson came out in support of the deal.
Earlier Netanyahu said he sought to reassure his audience that the United States and Israel would survive the latest policy rift, "as we have in the past."
"The relationship between the United States and Israel is so fundamentally strong that it will continue to remain strong," he added.