Netanyahu’s office downplays comparison of Iran deal to Nazi appeasement

JERUSALEM (JTA) – Hours after Israel’s Defense Ministry compared the Iran nuclear deal to the 1938 Munich Agreement – a failed bid by European powers to appease Nazi Germany – the Prime Minister’s Office scrambled to do damage control with the United States.

While Israel still does not support the Iran nuclear deal, it still considers the United States its greatest ally, the Prime Minister’ Office said in a statement Friday night.

The Prime Minister’s Office was blindsided by the Defense Ministry’s statement earlier in the day, according to Israeli news reports Saturday, and worked overtime Friday night to downplay it, including in a telephone call to U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro.

Defending the deal Thursday, amid allegations that the U.S. paid Iran $400 million as “ransom” to secure the release of American prisoners, U.S. President Barack Obama said the “Israeli military and security community … acknowledges this has been a game changer.”

“By all accounts, it has worked exactly the way we said it was going to work,” he said.

Some high-level former and current Israeli defence figures have spoken out in favour of the deal, albeit with caveats.

But the Israeli government remains against the deal, which lifts sanctions in exchange for Iran curbing its nuclear program, signed last summer between Iran and six world powers, including the United States. Israel and many American Jewish groups fiercely opposed the deal.

“While Israel’s view on the Iran deal remains unchanged, Prime Minister Netanyahu firmly believes that Israel has no greater ally than the United States,” reads the statement released by the Prime Minister’s Office.

“As the Prime Minister articulated last year at the United Nations, it is important now that both the who supported the deal and those who opposed it work together to achieve these three goals: Keep Iran’s feet to the fire to ensure that it doesn’t violate the deal; confront Iran’s regional aggression; and dismantle Iran’s global terror network.”

The statement concludes: Netanyahu “looks forward to translating these goals into a common policy and to further strengthening the alliance between Israel and the United States with President Obama and with the next U.S. administration.”

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