TEL AVIV — Israel's Ministry of Defense (MoD) issued Monday a qualified apology for an Aug. 5 statement that likened the US-led nuclear deal with Iran to the ill-fated pre-World War II Munich agreement between Great Britain and Nazi Germany.
The Aug. 5 statement was sparked by US President Barack Obama's Pentagon news conference the previous day in which he said the military and security community of Israel — "the country that was most opposed to the deal" — now realizes that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action "has been a game changer."
In its latest statement of clarification, MoD cited "the incorrect portrayal in the media" of its earlier statement from last Friday, which referenced the Munich agreement.
According to the MoD, "Friday's statement was in no way intended to draw comparisons, historical or personal."
It concluded: "We regret if it was interpreted otherwise."
Below is a translated text of the initial statement from Aug. 5 to allow readers the opportunity to determine whether it was misrepresented by this and other media outlets:
"Below is a notice from MoD following remarks by US President Barack Obama on the issue of the nuclear agreement with Iran:
The Israeli defense establishment reasons that agreements have value if and only when they are based on existing reality. [Such agreements] have no value if facts on the ground are completely opposite from those that the agreement is based upon.
The Munich Agreements did not prevent the Second World War and the Holocaust, precisely because their basic assumption, that Nazi Germany could be a partner to any kind of agreement, was wrong. And because the leaders of the world at that time ignored the explicit statements by Hitler and the rest of the leaders of Nazi Germany.
These things are also true with respect to Iran, which also explicitly states that its objective is the destruction of the state of Israel. The State Department report published this year determined that [Iran] ranks as the world's number one co-sponsor of global terror.
Therefore, the defense establishment, like all of the Israeli nation and many in the world, understands that agreements of this type concluded with powers like Iran do not help and rather harm the uncompromising struggle that must be waged against a terror state like Iran."
And here is the full English text of Monday's statement:
"Regarding the incorrect portrayal in the media of the statement by Israel's defense establishment last Friday, which made reference to the Munich Agreement, we would like to clarify:
The State of Israel and Israel's defense establishment will continue to work in close and full cooperation with the United States, out of deep appreciation and mutual respect.
However, Israel is gravely concerned by the fact that even after the signing of the agreement with the P5+1 (JCPOA), the Iranian leadership continues to declare Iran's central aim to be the destruction of the State of Israel and continues to threaten Israel's existence in words and deeds. Its unacceptable actions include:
- Intensive development of nuclear capable ballistic missiles in violation of Security Council Resolution 2231;
- An official procession boasting ballistic missiles with the inscription 'Israel must be wiped out';
- The holding, once again, of its ritual Holocaust denial caricature contest;
- Continuous engagement in terrorism against Jewish and Israeli targets around the world, both directly and via its proxies, Hamas and Hezbollah. Earlier this year, Iran was ranked first among state sponsors of terror by a US State Department report.
Therefore, even if Iran is in compliance with the JCPOA, its open and official policy of seeking Israel's destruction negates its legitimacy within the international community.
Yet, despite the above, since the signing of the JCPOA, a litany of political and economic world leaders has engaged with Tehran in the search of business opportunities, where many of the billions of dollars obtained by Iran are being invested in a military buildup and an illicit ballistic missile development program.
The difference in Israel's position on this matter from that of our close ally, the United States, in no way detracts from our deep appreciation for the United States and for the President of the United States, for their tremendous contribution to Israel's national security and for the great importance that we attribute to the unbreakable alliance between our two countries.
Friday's statement was in no way intended to draw comparisons, historical or personal. We regret if it was interpreted otherwise."
Opall-Rome is Israel bureau chief for Defense News. She has been covering U.S.-Israel strategic cooperation, Mideast security and missile defense since May 1988. She lives north of Tel Aviv. Visit her website at www.opall-rome.com.