Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said it would be "absurd" to ease the pressure on Iran’s nuclear program in order to engage its help in fighting the Islamic State militant group.
Speaking at an event honoring the late Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin in Jerusalem Sunday night, Netanyahu said, “Menachem Begin would completely reject it and I am doing the same,” the Times of Israel reported.
Begin in 1981 ordered the airstrike on Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor.
“They [Iran] are fighting ISIL for their own interests, they are fighting over who will control the Islamic world that they want to impose on the entire world,” Netanyahu said.
Netanyahu appeared to be responding to a Reuters report earlier Sunday that quoted unnamed senior Iranian officials and said Iran had expressed a willingness to work with the U.S. to stop the Islamic State, but wants more flexibility from Western negotiators on its uranium enrichment program.
"Iran is a very influential country in the region and can help in the fight against the ISIL (Islamic State) terrorists ... but it is a two-way street. You give something, you take something," a senior Iranian official told Reuters.
"ISIL is a threat to world security, not our (nuclear) program, which is a peaceful program," the official added.
Netanyahu later repeated his warning on Twitter following his speech.
It's absurd.Menachem Begin would reject this outright and so do I. Iran must not be allowed to become a nuclear threshold state.— PM of Israel (@IsraeliPM) September 21, 2014
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Friday that Iran has a role to play in the fight against the Islamic State.
“There is a role for nearly every country in the world to play, including Iran.” Kerry said.
Kerry met Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in New York on Sunday to discuss the nuclear negotiations and “the threat posed by ISIL,” a senior State Department official told reporters.
Negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program resumed again last week, with representatives aiming for a Nov. 24 deadline to reach an agreement.
Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, cautioned against letting up on Iran in exchange for its help fighting the Islamic State and said a nuclear Iran is "a thousand times more dangerous" than the Sunni militant group.
“Now I know there is still some absurd talk in certain quarters about Iran being a partner in solving problems in the Middle East,” Dermer said last week at a reception ahead of the Jewish new year. “They are not a partner, they were not a partner, they never will be a partner. Iran as a nuclear power is a thousand times more dangerous than ISIS."
The ambassador praised President Barack Obama for leading the coalition against the jihadi group, JTA reported.