After a series of harsh comments from the US regarding Netanyahu’s opposition to the Iran nuclear deal, Israel is interpreting Kerry’s decision to skip Jerusalem during his upcoming Middle East trip as a snub.
Israel is not included in US Secretary of State John Kerry’s itinerary for his upcoming trip to the Middle East.
Kerry has openly criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for speaking out against the Iranian nuclear deal, in which the US commits to defending Iran, and he warned Israel against attacking the Islamic Republic.
Kerry’s itinerary includes a stop in Egypt for bilateral dialogue followed by a visit to Qatar to meet with the foreign ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries to discuss the Iranian nuclear agreement.
Asked by reporters on Monday why Kerry was not stopping in Israel, State Department spokesman John Kirby replied, “It’s just not part of the parameters for this trip. It’s not – it wasn’t a deliberate decision not to go… [Kerry] has been in touch with Prime Minister Netanyahu many, many times over the last several weeks in terms of discussing the deal and the parameters of it. So it’s not as if we aren’t in constant communication with Israeli counterparts about this.”
Kirby clarified that Netanyahu and Kerry last spoke on July 16.
Nonetheless, Kerry’s itinerary is being interpreted in Israel as a rebuke to Netanyahu for openly campaigning against the Iranian nuclear deal based on several recent statements by the US secretary of state. In a speech Friday at the Council on Foreign Relations, Kerry warned, “I fear that what could happen is if Congress were to overturn [the deal], our friends in Israel could actually wind up being more isolated and more blamed.”
When asked by NBC the same day whether the nuclear deal increased the odds that Israel would unilaterally attack Iranian nuclear sites, either by conventional military means or by cyber warfare, Kerry said, “That’d be an enormous mistake, a huge mistake with grave consequences for Israel and for the region, and I don’t think it’s necessary.”
An Israeli official told The New York Times in response, “We reject the threats directed at Israel in recent days… The regrettable attempt to intimidate Israel will not prevent us from voicing our concerns about this deal, which poses direct threats to Israel’s security.”
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