Israel fails to press Europe over Iran
Netanyahu scares EU with more refugees from Syria
7 June, 2018Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu visited last week Berlin, Paris and London in an attempt to persuade the Iranian nuclear deal signatories Britain, France and Germany to follow Washington's lead in scrapping the accord. Israeli Prime Minister is meeting opposition in European capitals to his aggressive stance against Iran, AP reported on Wednesday. The three European states seek to save the deal, saying it is not perfect but is the best chance to prevent Tehran from developing a nuclear bomb. Netanyahu accused Iran of using the “cash bonanza” from sanctions relief under the deal “not to develop Iran, not to make it more moderate,” but to build up its forces in war-torn Syria. In his talks with Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel and later with the French President, Netanyahu warned that Iran can spark another religious war inside Syria, another civil war, and then many refugees will go to Europe. Merkel insisted that the Europeans and Israel were “united by the goal that Iran must never get a nuclear weapon” but acknowledged deep differences with Netanyahu on “how we can best achieve this”. She defended the nuclear accord as ensuring “at least for a certain time, that Iran's activities are under control”, noting that Tehran had been “on the brink of having a nuclear weapon” before the deal was signed. But she acknowledged that a supplementary deal with Tehran, covering its ballistic missile programme as well as its interventions in countries such as Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen, was needed.Following talks in Paris with Netanyahu at Elysee Palace on Tuesday, French President Emmanuel Macron called on “everyone to stabilise the situation and not give into this escalation which would lead to only one thing: conflict”. “I did not ask President Macron to leave the deal. I think that economic realities are going to decide this matter, so it's not what we focused on,” Netanyahu said after talks between the two leaders. “What we focused on, and what I focused on, is how to stop Iranian aggression in the region,” he added.Meanwhile last week, ministers from Germany, France and Britain wrote to senior US officials urging them to protect European companies working in Iran from getting caught up in Washington's new sanctions on the Islamic Republic. In the 4 June letter, seen by Reuters, the foreign and finance ministers singled out key areas where they expected exemptions for EU firms, including pharmaceuticals, healthcare, energy, automotive, civil aviation, infrastructure and banking. The ministers also urged Washington to grant exemptions to maintain banking and financial channels with the Central Bank of Iran and other Iranian banks that are not sanctioned by the EU. The European ministers said they shared most of Washington's concerns about the status of Iran's nuclear programme after 2025, its development of ballistic missiles and “destabilising actions” in the Middle East. But they said preserving the 2015 nuclear deal was “the best basis on which to engage Iran and address those concerns”.