Netanyahu pushes world leaders for changes in Iran nuclear deal

Netanyahu held brief meetings with a long list of world leaders on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, where he promoted issues in Israel’s interests, chiefly the Iranian threat.

By: World Israel News Staff

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday met with a long list of leaders from across the globe on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, where he discussed various issues of Israeli national interest.

Netanyahu has been campaigning for the reexamination and modification of the nuclear agreement with Iran. In Davos, he called on world leaders to take the opportunity created in the wake of President Donald Trump’s declaration that he would withdraw from the deal unless it was fixed.

Earlier this month, Trump pledged to stop waiving US sanctions unless the Europeans agreed to a stronger side deal that would effectively eliminate provisions in the agreement, which currently allow Iran to gradually resume its advanced atomic work. A US withdrawal from the deal would mean reimposing a broad range of sanctions that isolate Iran from the international financial system, effectively scrapping the agreement for all intents and purposes.

Before leaving for Davos on Tuesday, Netanyahu stated that “in the coming weeks, they will have a last opportunity to try to introduce real – not cosmetic – changes in the dangerous agreement with Iran. In any case, with or without an agreement, our policy is to prevent the terrorist regime in Iran from arming itself with nuclear weapons, which would endanger us, the Middle East and the entire world.”

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In Davos, Netanyahu stressed that Israel will never allow Iran to establish a military presence in Syria, which would directly endanger Israel’s security and open a new front on its northern border.

On the diplomatic process with the Palestinians, Netanyahu told world leaders that he will not compromise on Israel’s security needs in any future agreement.

Switzerland, Canada, Belgium

The prime minister expressed the desire to deepen economic and technological cooperation with Canada, Belgium and Switzerland and invited the leaders of those countries to visit Israel.

He and Swiss President Alain Berset agreed to work toward creating new tracks for bilateral economic cooperation.

Netanyahu and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau discussed updating the free trade agreement and agreed to expedite contacts on the issue.

Following a talk with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, one of the key players in the Iran nuclear deal, Netanyahu described it as “an important meeting.” He said that in his view, the only existing option at the moment is to add real changes to the pact with the Islamic Republic that would “prevent Iran from going nuclear, which would otherwise be assured by the agreement as it stands.”

Merkel ‘understands our concerns’

Netanyahu expressed appreciation for Merkel’s “genuine commitment” to Israel’s security. “She said that she understands our concerns regarding the nuclear agreement even though she does not necessarily agree with the way in which we want to deal with it,” he said.

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The Europeans will hold discussions among themselves on the nuclear deal, and then with the US, “but she [Merkel] understands that this touches on our concerns, the things that could threaten our very existence. She has proven this commitment in the past at various opportunities. I am satisfied that our positions have been well understood,” Netanyahu explained.

Netanyahu told French President Emmanuel Macron that “the partnership between us is also important for the security of Europe.” They also spoke at length about the need to stand against Iran’s regional aggression.

Rwanda and Guatemala

In the evening, Netanyahu met with Rwandan President Paul Kagame and congratulated him on assuming the chairmanship of the African Union. Among a range of issues discussed was the possibility of expanding cooperation between the two countries.

Netanyahu thanked Guatemalan Finance Minister Julio Hector Estrada for his country’s support for Israel. Guatemala was the first country to follow the US last month in recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

“First of all, best regards to James Morales. I have much appreciation for his stalwart position on Jerusalem, and for his friendship. We very, very much appreciate what you did,” Netanyahu told Kagame.

On Thursday, Netanyahu and President Donald Trump are meeting in Davos.