Israeli president warns of isolation over row with US on Iran

JERUSALEM: Israeli President Reuven Rivlin warned Thursday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s fight with Washington over the Iran nuclear deal threatens to leave the Jewish state isolated.


US President Barack Obama vigorously defended the agreement with Tehran on Wednesday and singled out the Jewish state as its only public opponent.

“I am very worried by the battlefront (that has opened up) between Obama and Netanyahu and by relations between the United States and Israel,” Rivlin told local newspaper.

“The prime minister is leading a campaign against the United States as if we were equals, and that is liable to hurt Israel,” he said.

“We are to a large extent isolated in the world at the moment. I’m not a pessimist but for the first time I see that we are alone.”

Rivlin said: “I say to him (Netanyahu) and I’m telling him again that disputes, even where they are just, can at the end of the day turn out to be at Israel’s expense.”

The interviews, marking the completion of Rivlin’s first year in office, were conducted before Obama’s speech, his spokesman said.

Netanyahu has not responded publicly to Obama’s speech at the American University in Washington. His office declined comment when contacted by AFP on Thursday.

He has previously said the deal will not block Iran’s path to nuclear weapons and that the lifting of sanctions will allow it to further back proxy militants in the region, including enemies of Israel.

Netanyahu on Tuesday made a direct appeal to US Jewish groups to fight the agreement, while hitting out at “disinformation” over Israel’s trenchant stance against it.

Obama pointedly refused to meet Netanyahu when he travelled to Washington in March to argue against the deal before the Republican-dominated US Congress.