In the months leading up to the signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) by the P5+1 (the five permanentmembers of the UN Security Council plus Germany) and Iran in July (see Doc. A1), Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu emerged as the deal’s most outspoken opponent. In his March 2015 address to the U.S. Congress, Netanyahu warned that the agreement would not impede Iran’s ability to develop a nuclear weapon and he urged Congress to take legislative action against it (see the Special Document File in JPS 44). After the framework agreement was signed in April, Netanyahu redoubled his rhetoric in hopes of convincing Congress to override the final deal. On the day of its signature, Netanyahu described the JCPOA as a “historic mistake” and he vowed to fight it with all diplomatic means necessary. Israel lobby groups followed suit, going on to spend tens of millions of dollars in efforts to get Congress to override the agreement during its 60-day review period.
But as Netanyahu and lobby groups issued dire warnings about the deal and its alleged shortcomings, U.S. Jewish lobby groups and Israeli security experts argued that it was the best available option to address the question of Iran’s nuclear program. In an interview with the Forward, former Shin Bet director Ami Ayalon called the JCPOA “the best possible alternative from Israel’s point of view, given the other available alternatives,” later adding, “I don’t believe that 10 or 15 years from now the world will stand by and watch Iran acquire nuclear weapons.” Similarly, the former chief of arms technology at the Defense Ministry and current head of the Ministry of Science and Technology’s space agency, Yitzhak Ben- Yisrael, told Walla! News that the deal was “not bad at all, perhaps even good for Israel.”
In addition, the U.S. Jewish lobby group J Street ran a $2 million campaign to convince its constituency in the U.S. that the deal “advances both U.S. and Israeli security interests.” J Street’s advertisements highlighted the unprecedented inspection regulations and the “round-the-clock monitoring” that would block Iran’s abilities to produce a nuclear weapon.
In sharp contrast with the Obama administration’s position (see Doc. D1), Netanyahu’s response warned that the deal made the world more dangerous. Presented below are excerpts from Netanyahu’s response to the JCPOA. The full statement is available at www.pmo.gov.il.