As Israel’s secret service Mossad denied claims saying it lobbied the United States Congress against new sanctions on Iran, former Mossad chief Meir Dagan criticized Netanyahu for damaging Israel, questioning the Israeli prime minister’s policy on the issue.
“Netanyahu's position will not change the West's position on the Iranian issue, but his actions bring our relationship with the Americans to an extreme point and this might extract an unbearable price from us in the future,” Dagan said on Wednesday in Tel Aviv, Israel.
Stating that the US is aware of Netanyahu’s position, he said the prime minister’s visit to Washington will not change Obama’s mind nor will will change the Congress’ position.
Dagan continued criticizing Netanyahu’s government, saying he doesn’t trust the prime minister.
“He and Bennett [Minister of the Economy Naftali Bennett] are leading us to a bi-national state and disaster,” said Dogan.
“I don't want to have Second Class Citizens."
Diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Israel, especially between U.S. President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, seem to be on a knife-edge following Netanyahu’s unexpected visit to Washington, after being invited by Republican House Speaker John Boehner to give a speech to Congress. The White House called the move a breach of protocol, pressuring Congress to bring about new sanctions on Iran.
The White House blames the Israeli envoy to the US
Meanwhile, as reported by The New York Times, the White House has accused Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer of orchestrating the invitation, citing a senior Obama administration official, who asked to remain anonymous.
In a phone call with the newspaper Dermer said he did not intend to slight the White House by keeping the confidence of Boehner, who suggested the invitation and whom Derme expected to notify Obama. “I have no regrets whatsoever that I have acted in a way to advance my country’s interests,” explained Dermer.
“My understanding was that it was the speaker’s prerogative to do, and that he would be the one to inform the administration,” said Dermer, according to NYT.
“The prime minister feels very strongly that he has to speak on this issue. That’s why he accepted the invitation, not to wade into your political debate or make this a partisan issue, and not to be disrespectful to the president.”
Ron Dermer is an American-born Israeli, who had worked for Republicans as political operative, and is known as ‘Bibi (Netanyahu)’s brain’. He became Israel’s envoy to the US in 2013.
While Dermer’s allies support him - saying he is effective at the job he holds -, some critics believe he might be removed, even though he would be announced as “persona non grata”, the official method for a foreign diplomat to be ousted from a country.
Daniel C. Kurtzer, a former United States ambassador to Israel, said: “He’s a political operative, he’s not really an ambassador. What he did was totally unacceptable from a standpoint of diplomacy. To think about going behind the back of a friendly country’s administration and working out this kind of arrangement with the parliament or the Congress — it’s unheard of.”
President Obama said Netanyahu should stop trying to influence the Congress about Iran, adding he would not meet him during the latter’s visit to Washington.
Iran and six countries - the U.S., Russia, China, the U.K., France, and Germany - are scheduled to meet in February, following talks in Geneva and Paris that concluded earlier this month.
The West accuses Iran of developing nuclear weapons, while Tehran insists its program is for peaceful purposes only.