The Herald Bulletin

Midday Update

Nation & World

November 10, 2013

Crisis brewing in Israeli-US relations

(Continued)

JERUSALEM —

In surprisingly blunt comments, Kerry told Israel's Channel 2 TV on Thursday that Israel faced the possibility of international isolation and renewed violence with the Palestinians if peace efforts failed. He also said the continued settlement construction raised questions about Israel's commitment to peace.

"How can you say, 'We're planning to build in the place that will eventually be Palestine?'" Kerry said. "It sends a message that somehow perhaps you're not really serious."

Netanyahu responded the next morning ahead of a meeting with Kerry. "No amount of pressure will make me or the government of Israel compromise on the basic security and national interests of the State of Israel," the visibly agitated premier said.

Netanyahu also slammed the emerging agreement with Iran. "Iran got the deal of the century, and the international community got a bad deal," he said. "This is a very bad deal and Israel utterly rejects it."

He warned that Israel is "not obliged" to honor the agreement and would do "everything it needs to do to defend itself." Following a tense meeting stretching more than two hours, a planned joint appearance with Kerry and Netanyahu to the media was canceled.

While negotiators in Geneva hammered out details Saturday, the discussed deal appeared to include some relief from painful economic sanctions in exchange for limits on Iranian nuclear activity. However, chances of a deal being struck looked slim late Saturday.

White House spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said Saturday the Obama administration was "in full agreement with Israel on the need to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon" and that the negotiations had that goal in mind.

But Netanyahu has said international pressure should be increased, not eased, until Iran dismantles all suspicious nuclear activities. That position puts him at odds with the U.S. as the White House urges Congress to hold off on new sanctions while negotiations are under way.

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