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Israel's Netanyahu calls Iran deal 'a historic mistake'

Ahikam Seri, AFP | Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at a press conference in Jerusalem on July 14, 2015

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday Israel would not be bound by a historic nuclear deal between world powers and Iran and would defend itself.

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Netanyahu appeared before television cameras to make a statement in which he underlined Israel’s disappointment in the deal, which he described as a “stunning, historic, mistake”.

“Israel is not bound by this deal with Iran because Iran continues to seek our destruction. We will always defend ourselves,” he said.

Netanyahu’s harsh criticism of the agreement came after he warned for months that the deal being negotiated would not prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

While analysts say unilateral military action by Israel seems unlikely for now, Netanyahu and other officials have kept the option on the table.

Netanyahu has taken his campaign to the United States Congress and the United Nations General Assembly, but ultimately failed to block the agreement.

Under the deal, sanctions imposed by the United States, European Union and United Nations will be lifted in return for Iran agreeing long-term curbs on a nuclear programme that the West has suspected was aimed at creating a nuclear bomb.

“Iran will get a jackpot, a cash bonanza of hundreds of billions of dollars, which will enable it to continue to pursue its aggression and terror in the region and in the world,” Netanyahu said. “Iran is going to receive a sure path to nuclear weapons.”

‘Historic surrender’

Netanyahu's deputy foreign minister, Tzipi Hotovely, denounced an “historic surrender” and said Israel would “act with all means to try and stop the agreement being ratified”, a clear threat to use its influence to try and block it in the US Congress.

Some diplomats in Vienna said the strong Israeli response could actually help, by making it easier for Iranian President Hassan Rohani to sell the agreement back in Iran.

Israeli defence Minister Moshe Yaalon accused the six powers that negotiated the deal   Britain, France, the United States, Germany, China and Russia   of needlessly caving in to Tehran.

“Iran, who arrived at the negotiating table in a weak position, has emerged victorious,” he said.

“Instead of fighting terror with all its might, the free world has granted legitimacy to Iran’s hateful, murderous ways. This agreement is a tragedy for all who aspire for regional stability and fear a nuclear Iran.”

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog said on his Facebook page that “Israel’s interests have been abandoned”.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)

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