White House warns Netanyahu not to reveal Iran details

Washington (CNN)The Obama administration is bracing for Benjamin Netanyahu to spill secret details of Iran nuclear talks, as both camps traded last-minute political jabs ahead of the Israeli prime minister’s controversial address to Congress Tuesday.

The White House is uncertain what precise details may come out but aides spent Monday frantically mobilizing after Israeli officials said that the prime minister planned to disclose sensitive details of an agreement taking shape in talks between six world powers and Iran, which has entered a delicate final stage.

Concern and anger among American officials about the nature of what Netanyahu might expose heightened already roiling tensions between the two countries. Secretary of State John Kerry cautioned about the damage such revelations might have on the negotiations and President Barack Obama himself attacked Netanyahu’s judgment.

Netanyahu is expected to use the details to bolster his argument before Congress that the deal under discussion will not prevent Iran from getting a bomb and could therefore threaten the Jewish state’s existence.

Netanyahus life in picturesIsraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks in Jerusalem during a weekly Cabinet meeting in November 2013. Click through to see more photos from his life and career.Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks in Jerusalem during a weekly Cabinet meeting in November 2013. Click through to see more photos from his life and career.Netanyahu, right, sits with a friend at the entrance to his family home in Jerusalem on July 1, 1967. The Israeli prime minister was born October 21, 1949.Netanyahu, right, with a friend in the Judean Desert on May 1, 1968.Netanyahu serves in the Sayeret Matkal, an elite commando unit of the Israeli army, in 1971. He spent five years in the unit.Netanyahu shakes hands with Israeli President Zalman Shazar during a November 1972 ceremony honoring the Sayeret Matkal soldiers who freed hostages in a hijacking earlier that year.Netanyahu and his first wife, Miriam, in June 1980.Netanyahu and his daughter, Noa, in June 1980.Netanyahu speaks in July 1986 with Sorin Hershko, one of the Israeli soldiers wounded in Operation Entebbe. It was the 10th anniversary of Operation Entebbe, a dramatic rescue of Jewish hostages at Ugandas Entebbe Airport.  Netanyahus brother, Yonatan, was killed leading Operation Entebbe in 1976. Affected by his brothers death, Netanyahu organized two international conferences on ways to combat terrorism, one in 1979 and another in 1984.From 1984 to 1988, Netanyahu was Israels ambassador to the United Nations.Netanyahu talks to Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir on a stroll in New Yorks Central Park in November 1987.Netanyahu, as Israels deputy foreign minister, goes through some papers as Government Secretary Elyakim Rubinstein recites morning prayers on a flight from New York to Washington in April 1989.Shamir speaks with Netanyahu at a Middle East peace conference in Madrid in October 1991.Netanyahu celebrates after being elected chairman of the right-wing Likud party on March 21, 1993.Netanyahu and former foreign minister David Levy sit in the Knesset during the vote for a new Israeli President on March 24, 1993.Netanyahu meets with King Hussein of Jordan, center, and Crown Prince Hassan in December 1994. It was Netanyahus first visit to Jordan.Netanyahu shakes hands with outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres before taking the office himself in June 1996.Netanyahu meets with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat for the first time on September 4, 1996, at an Israeli army base at the Erez Checkpoint in Gaza.Netanyahu meets with U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in Washington in February 1997.Netanyahu spends the day on the beach with his wife, Sara, and son Avner in Caesarea, Israel, on August 16, 1997. Actor Kirk Douglas holds the King David Award, presented to him by the Jerusalem Fund Aish Ha Torah during a dinner in Beverly Hills, California, on November 17, 1997. Douglas was honored for his inspirational commitment to Israel and the Jewish people and in recognition of his new book quot;Climbing the Mountain.quot; Netanyahu is on the left. To the right is Rabbi Nachum Braverma, director of the Jerusalem Fund Aish Ha Torah.Netanyahu looks through binoculars during a tour of the West Bank with the Israeli Cabinet on December 28, 1997. Netanyahu and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan meet in Annans office in New York on May 15, 1998. From left, Arafat, King Hussein, U.S. President Bill Clinton and Netanyahu sign an interim Middle East peace agreement in October 1998.Netanyahu thanks a crowd of supporters in Tel Aviv, Israel, at a Likud party meeting in May 1999. The outgoing Prime Minister announced that he was quitting the Knesset and stepping down as party leader 10 days after being defeated in elections. Netanyahu testifies before the U.S. House Government Reform Committee on September 20, 2001. The committee was conducting hearings on terrorism following the September 11 attacks.Netanyahu, as Israels foreign minister, laughs with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon at the start of a Likud convention in Tel Aviv on November 12, 2002.Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, are seen at a polling station in Jerusalem on August 14, 2007. He was re-elected as head of the Likud party.Netanyahu shakes hands with Israeli President Shimon Peres in February 2009 after Netanyahu won backing from the Israeli parliament to become Prime Minister again. A close election between Netanyahu and rival Tzipi Livni had left the results unclear until the parliaments decision. From left, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Netanyahu, U.S. President Barack Obama, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Jordans King Abdullah II walk to the East Room of the White House to make statements on the Middle East peace process on September 1, 2010.Obama meets with Netanyahu at the White House in September 2010.U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton looks on as Abbas and Netanyahu shake hands in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, on September 14, 2010, during a second round of Middle East peace talks.British Prime Minister David Cameron welcomes Netanyahu to 10 Downing Street in London on May 4, 2011.Netanyahu address a joint session of the U.S. Congress on May 24, 2011. He said that he was prepared to make quot;painful compromisesquot; for a peace settlement with the Palestinians, but he repeated  that Israel will not accept a return to its pre-1967 boundaries.Netanyahu uses a diagram of a bomb to describe Irans nuclear program while delivering an address to the U.N. General Assembly on September 27, 2012. Netanyahu exhorted the General Assembly to draw quot;a clear red linequot; to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman of the Likud-Beiteinu coalition party greet supporters as they arrive onstage on election night in January 2013. The Likud-Beiteinu won 31 seats in the Knesset. Netanyahu speaks at the U.N. General Assembly on October 1, 2013. He accused Iranian President Hassan Rouhani of seeking to obtain a nuclear weapon and described him as quot;a wolf in sheeps clothing, a wolf who thinks he can pull the wool over the eyes of the international community.quot;In December, Netanyahu called for early elections as he fired two key ministers for opposing government policy. 41 netanyahu01 netanyahu02 netanyahu03 netanyahu04 netanyahu05 netanyahu 06 netanyahu07 netanyahu08 netanyahu09 netanyahu10 netanyahu11 netanyahu13 netanyahu - RESTRICTED12 netanyahu 15 netanyahu17 netanyahu  - RESTRICTED16 netanyahu 19 netanyahu20 netanyahu21 netanyahu 22 netanyahu23 netanyahu24 netanyahu 25 netanyahu 26 netanyahu27 netanyahu20 netanyahu31 netanyahu - RESTRICTED33 netanyahu 35 netanyahu34 netanyahu36 netanyahu37 neatanyahu38 netanyahu39 netanyahu 40 netanyahu43 netanyahu

The speech, which was organized by House Republican Speaker John Boehner without the White House’s prior knowledge, has already fueled a bitter domestic political row, and the fallout from any shared intelligence details could result in a more fundamental break between Israel and the U.S.

« The release of that information would betray the trust between our allies, and it certainly is inconsistent with the behavior of trusted allies, » White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Monday.

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the intelligence committee, told CNN that she hadn’t been told what would be in the speech but that she was concerned. One GOP senator said Israeli officials had described the address as containing « something we have never heard before. »

    Blunt words from Obama

    Obama bluntly said Monday that Netanyahu had been proven wrong about his diplomatic initiative before, telling Reuters that Netanyahu has in the past made « all sorts of claims » about the deal and that « none of that has come true. »

    And Kerry, who met his Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif in Switzerland on Monday, cautioned against Netanyahu revealing sensitive details of the negotiations.

    « I want to say clearly that doing so would make it more difficult to reach the goal that Israel and others say they share in order to get a good deal, » Kerry said.

    READ: Conflicting personalities and worldviews threaten U.S. ties with Israel

    State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf also sent a shot across Netanyahu’s bow, noting that Washington had provided regular classified briefings to the Israeli government on the progress of the talks and that the administration was « incredibly disappointed that some Israeli officials were saying Prime Minister Netanyahu would reveal sensitive information. »

    Netanyahu’s aides say that Tuesday’s speech represents the last chance for Israel to register its dismay at the proposed deal, ahead of a late March deadline for a political framework to be reached between the parties, so it is vital that he explains to lawmakers what is in the draft.

    ‘A bad deal is worse than no deal’

    National Security Adviser Susan Rice, meanwhile, told the America Israel Public Affairs Committee annual meeting that the administration would never sign an agreement that did not guarantee Israel’s security.

    « I want to be very clear. A bad deal is worse than no deal. If that is the choice, there will be no deal. »

    Rice also said that Israel’s insistence that Iran must stop all enrichment of uranium was unrealistic and took a clear shot at Netanyahu on the eve of his speech.

    « Soundbites won’t stop Iran getting a nuclear weapon. Strong diplomacy backed by pressure can. »

    The appearance on Capitol Hill amounts to a highly unusual case of a foreign leader, who has a fraught relationship with Obama, effectively deciding to side with Republicans in an effort to derail a potentially historic initiative that is one of the president’s top remaining priorities.

    READ: Will Netanyahu’s speech to Congress backfire?

    « The purpose of my address to Congress, » Netanyahu told the AIPAC on Monday « is to speak up about a potential deal with Iran that could threaten the survival of Israel. »

    « I plan to speak about an Iranian regime that is threatening to destroy Israel, that’s devouring country after country in the Middle East, that’s exporting terror throughout the world and that is developing, as we speak, the capacity to make nuclear weapons, lots of them, » Netanyahu said.

    The Obama administration says that a deal could verifiably freeze Iran’s nuclear program for at least a decade and stop it short enough of developing a weapon for the world to have time to act if it cheats on the agreement.

    A deal that falls short?

    Netanyahu however, argues that only an agreement that completely dismantles Iran’s entire nuclear infrastructure and materials is acceptable, and believes the one on the table falls far short of that demand.

    Netanyahu: Speech not intended to disrespect Obama

    Despite the fierce fight over his speech and a partial Democratic Party boycott, Netanyahu insists that he is not meddling in U.S. politics and says he respects Obama despite the personal and political gulf between them.

    But his decision to accept the invitation from Boehner has exacerbated a fierce disagreement over Iran and sent political ties between the U.S and Israel tumbling into their deepest crisis in years. Rice has branded Netanyahu’s visit « destructive. »

    Despite the escalating dispute over the possible future deal, Earnest said on Monday that it was still far from certain that one would emerge.

    « Our likelihood of success when it comes to reaching a deal in the context of these negotiations is only at best 50-50. There are difficult decisions that need to be made by the Iranian government in terms of their willingness to sign onto this agreement. And the president has made clear that he is not going to sign a bad deal. »

    Earnest also said that Obama had not watched Netanyahu’s speech to AIPAC and that he doubted the president would tune in on Tuesday when he goes to Congress. In a pointed show of administration pique over the address, Vice President Joe Biden, who normally would attend, is in Guatemala.

    Despite the warnings from the State Department and harsh words from the president, the White House did try to tamp down the flaring tensions in addresses by Rice and U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power to AIPAC Monday and in delivering several administration statements of support for the U.S.-Israel relationship.

    Still, the President will not be meeting with Netanyahu as is customary, or even speak to him by phone. U.S. officials say that is because a meeting between Netanyahu and the President could be construed as an attempt by Washington to interfere in Israel’s general election on March 17.

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