Netanyahu: Israel knows details of proposed U.S.-Iran deal
White House said it was keeping details secret over fears Israel might try to scuttle plan
Israel's prime minister said Thursday he knows the details of the deal being forged with Iran over its nuclear program and asked "what is there to hide" after the United States. said it was withholding some information on the talks.
Benjamin Netanyahu's remarks come a day after the Obama administration said it is keeping some specifics from Israel because it fears the close U.S. ally has leaked sensitive information to try to scuttle the talks — and will continue to do so.
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Netanyahu has angered the White House with his open opposition to a deal he believes threatens Israel's existence, and by accepting a Republican invitation to address Congress about Iran in early March without consulting the White House, a breach of diplomatic protocol.
The planned speech has caused an uproar in Israel as well, coming just two weeks before national elections. Netanyahu has rejected the criticism, saying it is his duty to lobby against the nuclear deal.
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki questioned Netanyahu's claim to knowing the details of the deal. "Then the fact is that he knows more than the negotiators, in that there is no deal yet," she said.
"Obviously, if there's a deal we'll be explaining the deal and explaining why and how it prevents Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. And if that's the case and we come to a deal, it's hard to see how anyone wouldn't see that's to the benefit of the international community," she said.
Kerry to meet with Iranian official
In another development, U.S. State Department announced Secretary of State John Kerry will meet his Iranian counterpart over the weekend for the fourth time this year as next month's deadline for a nuclear deal approaches.
Spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Kerry will meet Sunday with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif in Geneva, Switzerland, where American and Iranian negotiators are to resume talks Friday on an agreement. Kerry will travel to Geneva after a brief visit to London, where he will hold talks with British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond.
Kerry last met Zarif earlier this month in Munich.
Israel views a nuclear-armed Iran as a threat to its very existence, citing Tehran's repeated calls for Israel's destruction, its long-range missile program and its support for anti-Israel militant groups like Lebanon's Hezbollah.
Iran insists that its nuclear program is for purely civilian purposes.