UK minister: Israel wants 'permanent standoff' with Iran

UK minister: Israel wants 'permanent standoff' with Iran
British Foreign Secretary tells parliament that Israel would have rejected any Iran deal as Tel Aviv wanted permanent confrontation with Tehran.
2 min read
16 July, 2015
Hammond said that to reject the deal would not have been in UK interests [Getty]

Britain's foreign secretary said Israel wants a "permanent standoff" with Iran and suggested it wouldn't have welcomed any kind of nuclear deal.

Philip Hammond told Parliament on Wednesday that Israel "doesn't want any deal with Iran." He was responding to opposition lawmaker Ian Austin, who criticised the deal struck between Iran and the West aimed at keeping Tehran from building a nuclear bomb. Austin said the agreement "utterly dismayed" Israel. 

Hammond replied: "I think the question you have to ask yourself is what kind of a deal would have been welcomed in Tel Aviv." He added: "Israel wants a permanent state of standoff and I don't believe that's in the interests of the region, I don't believe it's in our interest." 

Hammond said he was traveling to Israel later and will meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Thursday to urge him to take a more pragmatic approach. 

"He has made clear that he intends to fight it all the way and that Israel will seek to use its influence in the US Congress to obstruct the progress of the deal," Hammond said. "I am confident that that action will not succeed. I am also confident that Israel has shown time and again that it can be pragmatic."  

Embassies will reopen

Philip Hammond also confirmed that Britain hopes to re-open its embassy in Tehran before the end of the year.

After more than a decade of negotiations, Iran agreed on Tuesday to long-term curbs on a nuclear programme, in return, the United States, European Union and United Nations will lift sanctions and unfreeze billions of dollars of Iranian assets. 

"I very much hope that we will be in a position to re-open our respective embassies before the end of the year," Hammond said in parliament. The re-opening was dependent on resolving some technical issues, he added, without elaborating. 

Diplomatic relations were suspended and the British embassy was closed after hundreds of Iranian demonstrators stormed the building in November 2011.