Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Iran has made clear it will continue to defy the international community Monday, adding, “diplomacy has not worked.”
He said that Iran “is running out the clock” in order to buy time and press ahead with its nuclear weapons program.
Netanyahu spoke to the AIPAC policy conference in Washington, DC, via a live link from Jerusalem on Monday.
Netanyahu told the audience that he looked forward to President Barack Obama’s upcoming trip to Israel and that there were three main issues that he would discuss with the US leader: Iran’s continued pursuit of nuclear weapons, the dangers of the Syrian situation and the realities of peace with the Palestinians.
Sanctions haven’t stopped the nuclear program, Netanyahu said, telling the DC audience that the leaders of the Islamic Republic simply grit their teeth and move forward.
Iran, Netanyahu said, is getting close to that red line that he detailed at the UN in New York City last fall. “We cannot allow Iran to pass that red line,” Netanyahu said, to a response of applause. The prime minister said that Iran’s nuke program must be stopped before it’s too late, but “words alone will not stop Iran.” Sanctions, he said, will not stop Iran unless coupled with a clear military threat.
Israel must be able to defend itself by itself, he said. “The rebirth of Israel is one of the greatest events in history,” Netanyahu said “We shall always defend the one and only Jewish state.”
The second issue to be discussed, Netanyahu said, was Syria. He noted that the civil war to Israel’s north could become “a strategic crisis.” Chemical and anti-aircraft weapons and other sophisticated arms could fall into the hands of terrorist organizations that could hit Israel or the US, he noted.
The possibility that such arms could fall into terrorist hands “is very real,” the prime minister said. Those groups, he added, were committed to Israel’s destruction and have repeatedly attacked the US, and that is why the US and Israel have a common interest in preventing them from obtaining deadly weapons.
Any peace with the Palestinians must be grounded in reality and in security, Netanyahu said. Israel, he noted, withdrew from Lebanon and Gaza and “got terror.” We cannot do that a third time, he said. “Israel will compromise but as Israel’s prime minister I will never compromise on security.”
The parties, he said, must work to find a path forward — step by step — for an enduring and defensible peace. It has to be defensible because “in the Middle East, especially this Middle East, a peace you cannot defend will not last five minutes.”
Netanyahu also noted that it must be ensured that the country’s neighbors are telling their children to live in peace.
“With President Obama we shall work for peace,” he said.
US Vice President Joe Biden told the crowd that President Barack Obama isn’t bluffing when he says he’ll use military action if ultimately necessary to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.
Biden said the US still prefers a diplomatic option but that the window for that is closing.
He added that every other option must be exhausted to ensure the world community will be supportive if there’s a need for a military intervention.
Efforts to delegitimize Israel as a Jewish state are the most dangerous change he’s seen related to Israel’s security, he told the conference.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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