Netanyahu: Lapid agreeing with US puts Israel in danger from Iran

Written by on June 21, 2021

The former prime minister accuses the new administration of giving into Biden’s demand that he rejected.

Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu is seen speaking at the Knesset, on June 21, 2021. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu is seen speaking at the Knesset, on June 21, 2021.

(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s critics charged Monday that he misled the public when he accused Israel’s new government of surrendering to American demands to not surprise the Biden administration on steps Israel takes to prevent the nuclearization of Iran, 

Speaking at a meeting of the Likud faction at the Knesset, Netanyahu said Foreign Minister Yair Lapid agreed to the request from US Secretary of State Antony Blinken when they spoke on Thursday night. He said both US President Joe Biden and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had issued the same request to him when he was in office, and he rejected it. 

“This is an incredible Israeli commitment that harms the heart of our national security,” Netanyahu said. “If Begin would have agreed to a policy of ‘no surprises,’ we would not have destroyed the nuclear reactor in Iraq. For 15 years as the prime minister of Israel, I was asked by our American friends to make this commitment many times and I always refused. Sometimes I updated them ahead of the operations we intended to carry out, and many times I did not update them. But I never, ever, agreed to tell them about all our operations, because it would invite pressure not to carry them out or leaks to the press that would prevent the operation and take away our freedom to act against Iran on existential matters.”

Netanyahu said his response was that he would take their requests into consideration, but on issues connected to Israel’s existence it must maintain the complete freedom to take action without the need to report in advance.

“I cannot think of a weaker and more emasculated message to our enemies in Iran,” he said. “I cannot think of a better gift for the Executioner from Tehran. From now on, he and his friends in the regime know that they can sleep silently, with no surprises.”

But Netanyahu’s critics responded that the policy of not surprising the US has been intact before, during and after Netanyahu’s term in office, but never applied to secret military and intelligence operations and still would not. 

Defense Minister Benny Gantz responded to Netanyahu by saying that what is truly dangerous for Israel is that he continues leaking the contents of his conversations with the president of the United States. He said that as defense minister, he would make sure that “Israel maintains its right to defend itself against any threat and in any place.”

Lapid responded that Netanyahu’s accusations were inaccurate, adding sarcastically that he “appreciates the advice of the opposition leader,” but he is no longer in charge.

Mocking new Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Netanyahu said he serves Lapid, who is the real prime minister. 

“They brought change for the worse,” he said. “They are unfit to lead for even a day.” 

Netanyahu reacted to Lapid telling his Yesh Atid faction earlier that he and his ministers found “destruction and abandonment” when they entered their ministries by saying that some of the ministries were led by Blue and White. Netanyahu said it was hypocritical for Lapid to make such a charge and then announce a visit to the United Arab Emirates, with which Netanyahu reached a normalization agreement. 

Lapid said he had no criticism of his predecessor as foreign minister, Gabi Ashkenazi (Blue and White) but for too many years, Israel’s foreign policy was built to serve Netanyahu. 

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