While visiting Rome for a conference with Pope Francis and leaders in the Italian government, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu continued his recent offensive on Iran. He slammed the U.S.-championed interim agreement concerning Iran's nuclear program, claiming it was already falling apart:
“There appears to be general relaxation of sanctions, and a rush to accommodate Iran, and to make it legitimate as if Iran has changed anything of its actual policies,” Netanyahu said after meeting Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta....
If the sanctions regime against Iran collapses, Netanyahu said, that would signal the end of chances to peacefully stop Iran’s nuclear program. And the program, he stressed, will be stopped.
His comments come only a few days before Secretary of State John Kerry arrives in Jerusalem for a conference with Palestinian and Israeli leaders. While Netanyahu has faced widespread criticism for his statements on the Iran agreement, Israeli Finance Minister Yair Lapid says his comments are justified:
“When people wonder why we have been so loud against this agreement with Iran it is because for us it is not academic or theoretical, it is existential.... Here is a regime that has been loud, not about a dispute with Israel, but rather about its wish and commitment to the destruction of Israel.”
Pope Francis plans to return the visit to Israel in May 2014, which would make him the fourth pope to visit the country.