The former head of Israel's intelligence agency harshly critiqued Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's rejection of a framework agreement between Iran and six world powers on Tehran's nuclear program.
In a scathing op-ed published Monday, former Mossad chief Efraim Halevy argued that U.S. President Barack Obama was right to call the agreement with Iran "historic" and that Iran made important and significant concessions during the negotiations.
"For decades, Iran rejected the international community's demand to hold talks of any kind with respect to its nuclear program," Halevy wrote on Israeli news website Ynet. "The interim agreement reached in Lausanne proves that Tehran capitulated, by agreeing to conduct negotiations about its plans and the nuclear infrastructure it has built up for years, primarily in secret."
Iran and six nations agreed on Thursday to a framework for an agreement that would restrict Tehran's controversial nuclear program in return for sanctions relief. The framework paves the way for a second phase of negotiations that needs to lead to a final agreement by June 30.
Netanyahu harshly criticized the terms of the framework in the wake of Thursday's agreement, arguing the measures currently on the table would not curb Iran's path to nuclear weapons. Netanyahu also demanded that Iran should recognize Israel's right to exist as part of a final deal.
Halevy, whose op-ed was published in English on the site, urged Netanyahu and his government to accept Obama's invitation for a dialogue on the negotiations and contribute to improvements ahead of the June 30 deal. "However, Israel's hasty response -- its total rejection of the memorandum of understanding -- seems to herald the beginning of an Israeli campaign designed to thwart the deal. Scrapping the deal would of course mean scrapping all the understandings already achieved," Halevy argued.
Halevy also slammed Netanyahu's additional request to include Iranian recognition of the state of Israel as part of a deal. "Clearly, Iran is not going to change its spots," the ex-Mossad chief wrote. "Therefore, anyone who voices such a demand is signaling that he doesn't want the agreement and has his eyes on an aggressive solution."
Halevy led Israel's intelligence agency from 1998 until 2002. He was appointed Israel's ambassador to the European Union in 1996 and also worked as security chief for former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Halevy has been a longtime proponent of diplomacy as a means to limit Iran's nuclear ambitions.
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