Netanyahu to U.S.: Avoid Working with Iran in Iraq

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Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu strongly discourages the U.S. from working with Iran to mitigate the spreading turmoil in Iraq.

"When your enemies are fighting one another, don’t strengthen either one of them," Netanyahu said Sunday on NBC's Meet the Press.

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Sunni insurgents have been sweeping through northern Iraq, seizing towns and cities, as Shiites struggle to defend their turf.

Iran, which is largely Shiite, has not yet been tapped to lend aid in Iraq, and President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have not been clear on whether they will join forces with Iran to aid the region.

In the midst of the outbreak in Iraq, Iran and the west have been trying to negotiate a compromise over Iran's nuclear program.

Netanyahu worries that if America works with Iran, their nuclear might will be strengthened.

"I hope they don’t come up with a bad deal," he said. "Iran could come out with nuclear weapons capability — it would make everything else pale in comparison."

He said the U.S. should "try to weaken both" Iran and the Sunni insurgents.

Another group of militants that Netanyahu would like to see squashed is Hamas, the Palestinian Sunni terror group that Israel blames for kidnapping three Israeli teenagers earlier this month.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has vowed to help find the three boys, but Netanyahu said his actions dealing with Hamas will test whether his promise is genuine.

Netanyahu claimed Israel is "beacon of civilization" in the Middle East.

"Go to Libya, go to Syria, go to Iraq, and see the difference," Netanyahu said. But make sure to travel in "an armored plated bus, and make sure you don’t say that you're Christian," he warned.

— Elisha Fieldstadt