JERUSALEM (JTA) — Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert accused his successor, Benjamin Netanyahu, of declaring war on the United States in its policy on Iran.
“We’ve declared war on the American government. You can’t deny this,” Olmert said Sunday at panel discussion during a conference at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv on the recent agreement on Iran’s nuclear program, according to Israeli media.
Olmert said Israel should not be leading the international effort against Iran’s nuclear program and that that role should be left to the United States.
“Israel should be a partner in this fight but cannot and should not lead the international fight,” Olmert said. ”This was the Sharon government’s position and the position of my government as well.”
Netanyahu has publicly called the agreement arrived at in Geneva last month between Iran and the world powers a “bad deal” and a “historic mistake.” The deal provides some sanctions relief for Iran in exchange for rollbacks in its nuclear program.
“I hope this will not be perceived as an attack on the prime minister,” Olmert said, “but the State of Israel should cease to criticize the policy of the U.S. and the policymakers of the United States.”
Netanyahu, in Rome for an audience with Pope Francis, responded to Olmert’s barbs. According to the Jerusalem Post, he said, “When I see that our vital interests are at stake, I will not shut up.”