Netanyahu says Iran nuclear deal is dead

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Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said the Iran nuclear deal is effectively over, despite the continuing support of Britain and other European allies.

Mr Netanyahu, who who held talks with Theresa May in Downing Street on Wednesday, said the threat of US sanctions on companies which continue to trade with Iran had been decisive.

Speaking to the Policy Exchange think tank in London on Thursday he said: “The weight of the American economy forces the issue.

“If you are a European company or an Asian company or any company and you have to choose whether to do business with Iran or forgo doing business with the United States, you have to choose an economy that is about 3% the size of the American economy or you forgo an economy with 21 trillion dollars GDP, that’s a no brainer.”

His comments came despite Mrs May’s assertion that the UK, together with France and Germany, remained committed to the agreement – even though President Donald Trump has announced the United States is pulling out.

Mr Netanyahu, who also met French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel earlier in the week, said, however, that in practice the Europeans accepted the “economic realities”.

“Companies are pulling out of Iran. And it is a good thing that they are pulling out of Iran because if we have learned anything it is stop aggressive tyrannical regimes early on,” he said.

“Don’t accommodate them, for god’s sake don’t feed them with cash. Stop them. That’s what I think is happening now.

“So I didn’t spend much time on that because I think it is done. It’s a done deal. My impression is that everybody understands the economic realities.”

Mr Netanyahu has long argued the deal – originally signed in 2015 when Barack Obama was president – was ineffective in constraining Iran’s ambitions to become a nuclear weapons power.

He criticised European governments for refusing to follow President Trump’s lead in recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving the US embassy to the city.

“Why should European governments say that the capital of Israel will no be in Jerusalem when they know very well that this is a fact that will continue?” he asked.

“These are facts. Jerusalem is Israel’s capital and I am very glad that President Trump finally said something everybody knows is true.”

He again defended the shooting by Israeli forces of more than 100 Palestinians during protests at the border fence with Gaza, despite Mrs May voicing concern at the scale of the casualties.

He said those involved were “vicious terrorists” who had been used by Hamas to attack Israel.

“They are organising a violent assault into Israel with a view to destroying us, which they openly proclaim, in order to break the border fence and kidnap and murder Israelis,” he said.

Protest in London
A rally was held in central London after more than 60 Palestinians were killed and around 2,000 more injured by Israeli forces during protests on Monday (Victoria Jones/PA)

“This is not because of any wrongdoing that Israel is making, it’s because Israel exists. This is the thing they are really protesting at,” he said.

“They are leaving aside all the wrongs in the world and concentrating on the one and only Jewish state that is surrounded by people who openly declare their desire to obliterate us, and they side with the obliterators.

“I can’t buy this as a moral position.”

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