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Israeli premier Netanyahu criticises Iran nuclear deal

Published 15/07/2015

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has condemned the Iran deal. (AP)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has condemned the Iran deal. (AP)

Benjamin Netanyahu has stepped up his criticism of the US-led nuclear deal with Iran

The Israeli prime minister warned that Israel has a "great and mighty" strength to defend itself.

Mr Netanyahu's war of words came as his political rival, Isaac Herzog, announced he would go to the US to lobby for a compensation package to insure Israel's military advantage in the region.

Mr Herzog's trip reflects the broad opposition to the deal in Israel, where most politicians fear the move will fail to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons while strengthening the Islamic Republic's support for Israel's staunchest enemies.

Addressing parliament, Mr Netanyahu reiterated that Israel was not bound by the deal and said his country would continue to oppose it.

"All the more so, we will reserve our right to defend ourselves against all of our enemies," he said. "We have strength, and it is great and mighty."

Despite Mr Netanyahu's tough rhetoric, Israel's options appear limited, given the wide international support for Tuesday's agreement.

Israel's first course of action is expected to be a lobbying effort in the US Congress ahead of a review of the deal. But even there, its influence will be limited since President Barack Obama does not need congressional approval.

The Republican-led Congress will instead try to derail the deal by passing new sanctions or preventing Mr Obama from lifting existing sanctions - the key incentive for Iran to comply with the deal. Mr Obama has said he would veto any resolutions undermining the deal.

In the first sign of Israeli diplomatic action, Mr Herzog soon will travel to Washington.

"We must enter dialogue with our big ally, the US," Mr Herzog said in parliament.

In a videotaped statement posted on his Facebook page, Mr Herzog said he had spoken with officials of pro-Israel lobbying group AIPAC and other US groups, and would be headed to the United States "to ask that Israel gets a security umbrella and a series of steps to allow Israel to maintain its advantage in the region due to the new reality coming out of the deal".

Mr Herzog has criticised Mr Netanyahu over the deal, saying the Israeli leader unnecessarily antagonised the US and other allies during negotiations.

In March, Mr Netanyahu voiced his opposition to the emerging deal in a speech to the US Congress that enraged the White House.

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