Who: Matthew Duss, President, Foundation for Middle East Peace
Mitchell Plitnick, Program Director, Foundation for Middle East Peace
Foundation for Middle East Peace Statement: Tall on Rhetoric, Short on Details, and Plenty of Unanswered Questions
Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to a joint session of Congress laid out his opposition to the nuclear deal currently being worked on by the P5+1 and Iran. It failed, however, to offer a convincing argument as to why the deal is bad or to offer a credible alternative to the current diplomatic track.
Netanyahu objects to Iran having a nuclear enrichment capability that is fully monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency, but he offers no alternative.
He also objects to the idea that the agreement would last for at least ten years, believes the restrictions on Iran should be permanent, and says sanctions should be conditioned on a broad range of Iranian behaviors, and offers nothing in return. Nor does he offer a rationale as to why Iran would ever accept such an agreement.
“According to Netanyahu, the alternative to this deal is Iran capitulating on everything,” said Matthew Duss, President of the Foundation for Middle East Peace. “That’s not realistic. Netanyahu set conditions for a deal that Iran could not possibly accept. And just as with his creating new conditions for an agreement with the Palestinians, that seems to be the point: To prevent a deal.”
“Netanyahu tried to make the case that increased sanctions and threats of military action would force Iran to give in to even the most extreme demands from the United States,” said Mitchell Plitnick, Program Director for the Foundation for Middle East Peace. “This flies in the face of the history of the Iran nuclear issue. IAEA current access to Iran’s nuclear facilities and the concessions already made by Iran are Iran unprecedented, while the current sanctions are not. Sanctions put sufficient pressure on Iran for them to be amenable to negotiations. More will only tell them negotiations are futile.”
“That speech was actually helpful to supporters of a deal,” Duss added. “Netanyahu had a spotlight to offer a viable alternative on Iran. He came up with nothing.”
“In 2002, Netanyahu made many predictions in testimony before a House Committee on whether the United States should invade Iraq,” Plitnick said. “He was wrong on virtually every count, as he is wrong today.”
FMEP experts Matthew Duss and Mitchell Plitnick are available for commentary and interviews on Netanyahu’s speech and the issues involved in it.