Kerry to visit Israel amid strife over Iran deal


JERUSALEM (JTA) — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will visit Israel at the end of the week to discuss the proposed nuclear agreement between Iran and the world powers, as well as stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.

On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the announcement of Kerry’s visit at the beginning of the weekly Cabinet meeting.

Friday’s visit comes as relations between Israel and the United States appear to have soured over the issue of Iran and its suspected nuclear weapons program.

“I would like to make it clear that there can be disagreements even among the best of friends, certainly on issues related to our future and our fate,” Netanyahu told the Cabinet.

Netanyahu called Kerry “an old friend” who “is also a friend of Israel.”

Also Sunday, French President Francois Hollande and several French government ministers, including Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, arrived in Israel for a visit. France reportedly was a key reason that a deal with Iran on easing international sanctions in return for a scaling back of uranium enrichment was not signed last week in Geneva. Netanyahu has called the deal a “bad agreement.”

Netanyahu is scheduled to travel to Moscow on Thursday to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Also Sunday, the Prime Minister’s Office denied a report in the Kuwaiti newspaper al-Jarida that said President Obama in recent days has been refusing telephone calls from Netanyahu and directing them to Kerry. The newspaper cited a “knowledgeable source.”



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