State Dept. rejects demand that Iran recognize Israel in nuclear deal


(JTA) — The U.S. State Department rejected a demand by Israel’s Cabinet that a final nuclear deal with Iran include “a clear and unambiguous Iranian recognition” of Israel’s right to exist.

“This is an agreement that is only about the nuclear issue,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said on Friday night. “We have purposefully kept that separate from every other issue. That issue is complicated enough to deal with on its own.”

Harf pointed out that the United States has worked to combat other issues on which Iran has a poor record, for example sanctioning Iran for its human rights record and support of terrorism.

“If you try to deal with every regional issue that we had problems with that Iran was doing, I’m not sure how long those negotiations would take, but the nuclear issue is tough enough as it is,” Harf said. “But on those other issues, we have other ways of combating and countering that, whether it’s sanctions, whether it’s increasing security to our Gulf partners, whether – there’s a variety of ways we can do that.”

Iranian officials have repeatedly called for Israel’s destruction.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and President Barack Obama spoke Thursday by phone, during which Netanyahu told him, “This deal would pose a grave danger to the region and to the world and would threaten the very survival of the State of Israel.”

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