Obama Asks Netanyahu for 'A Breather' From Iran Criticism
Thursday, November 28, 2013 10:39 PM
By: Cathy Burke
President Obama has asked Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to "take a breather" from his "clamorous criticism" of an interim deal with Iran over its nuclear program while the United States starts talks on a comprehensive pact, the Washington Post reported.
Obama and Netanyahu spoke on the phone Sunday, in a conversation meant to calm the prime minister's concerns about the "first stage" deal between Tehran and the P5+1 countries — the permanent five members of the UN Security Council plus Germany.
"A wild card in these negotiations is Israel," Post columnist David Ignatius wrote Wednesday about the next stage of the talks with Iran.
"Obama has asked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to take a breather from his clamorous criticism and send to Washington a team that can explore with U.S. officials a sound end-state strategy. Perhaps the United States and Israel need a back channel, outside the bombastic pressure campaign by Israeli advocates."
After weeks of Israeli officials publicly condemning the deal, Netanyahu and Obama have agreed to send an Israeli delegation to Washington to discuss strategy for a permanent agreement with the Obama administration, in a clear shift to backroom diplomacy, the Jerusalem Post reported Thursday.
Last Sunday’s accord with Iran is a six-month agreement with an option to extend, meant to limit the Iranian nuclear program as the P5+1 try to hammer out a comprehensive accord with Iran. In return, Iran received some sanctions relief.
"Now that the Obama administration has won its breakthrough first-step nuclear deal with Iran, officials are planning strategy for the decisive second round that, over the next six months, will seek a broader and tougher comprehensive agreement," Ignatius wrote.
"This 'end state' negotiation, as officials describe it, promises to be more difficult because the United States and its negotiating partners will seek to dismantle parts of the Iranian program, rather than simply freeze them. Another complication is that negotiators will be fending off even more brickbats from hard-liners in Israel, Congress and Tehran.
"If the interim deal was reached largely in secret, through a back channel provided by Oman, this one will have to be negotiated in the diplomatic equivalent of a circus ring, with hoots and catcalls from bystanders."