Don’t get cozy with ‘problem’ Iran, Netanyahu to warn UN

Since nuke deal, world now wrongly believes that Tehran can be a part of solution in Syria, PM says; confirms visual aid in plans for address

Raphael Ahren is the diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly September 29, 2014 at the United Nations in New York. (AFP PHOTO/Don Emmert)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly September 29, 2014 at the United Nations in New York. (AFP PHOTO/Don Emmert)

NEW YORK — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu intends to use his upcoming speech at the United Nations to tell the world that Iran remains the root cause for the unrest in the Middle East, he told reporters Tuesday.

After the nuclear accord with Iran, the international community appears to have accepted the notion that Tehran, ostensibly barred from reaching nuclear weapons capability for a decade, no longer poses a grave danger to Israel and the Middle East at large — but in fact the opposite is the case, he said.

The international community now views the Iranian nuclear threat as eliminated since the deal stipulates Tehran’s uranium enrichment remain under the “red line,” he said, referencing a cartoon bomb prop during his speech at the UN General Assembly in 2012.

In his address to the same body this Thursday, he intends to present the various problematic aspects — “in word and deed” — of Iran’s current behavior, he vowed.

Iran’s “enormous onslaught” in the Middle East, which will be the main focus of his speech, is not just an Israeli concern but worries other countries in the region, which serves “as a basis for cooperation,” the prime minister said.

He also said ridding Iran of influence in the region was the key to solving the Syrian civil war.

“In Syria, Iran is presented as part of the solution, when it is actually the problem,” the prime minister told the traveling press minutes before his plane landed at JFK Airport. “Iran supports [Syrian President Bashar] Assad enormously. Without Iran, there would be no Assad. The Assad regime survives thanks to Iran. The commander there is [Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards commander] Qassam Soleimani and his deputy commander is [Hezbollah Leader Sheikh] Hassan Nasrallah, and they do what needs to be done to preserve Assad.”

Netanyahu didn’t directly attack the handshake between US President Barack Obama and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, which took place this week on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, but said it was part of a general trend of the world welcoming Iran into the family of nations, which he intends to criticize during his speech Thursday.

All these topics will also be discussed during his meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry, in addition to the peace process with the Palestinians and efforts to “strengthen Israel’s security” in the wake of the Iran deal.

During his conversation with the traveling press, Netanyahu revealed that he intends to use a visual aid during his UN address, as he has done in previous years, but refused to provide more detail.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sets out his 'red line' for Iran on a cartoon bomb drawing during a September 27 speech to the General Assembly (photo credit: Avi Ohayun, GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sets out his ‘red line’ for Iran on a cartoon-bomb drawing during a speech to the UN General Assembly, on September 27, 2012. (Avi Ohayun, GPO)

Aside from a cartoon bomb, the prime minister has famously held up blueprints for the Auschwitz death camp and pictures of Palestinians launching rockets from civilian areas in Gaza to make various points.

Netanyahu has no public events scheduled for Wednesday and will spend the day in his midtown Manhattan hotel “preparing for the speech,” an aide said.

While Netanyahu is hitting the books, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is scheduled to address the General Assembly Wednesday and subsequently attend a ceremony during which the Palestinian flag will be raised at the United Nations.

Before boarding the plane Tuesday, Netanyahu said his speech would deal with what Israel expects from the world in the wake of the Iran deal, and the Syrian threat on the country’s borders.

He said he would also mention during his speech Israel’s “desire for peace with the Palestinians.”

However, Netanyahu said, the Palestinians continue to spread “gross lies about our policy on the Temple Mount. I will demand a halt to this wild incitement.”

Israel will maintain the status quo on the holy site, he said, speaking as tensions have ratcheted up on the esplanade amid several police clashes with Palestinian protesters.

“It is the Palestinian rioters who are bringing war materiel, pipe bombs and fireworks onto the Temple Mount who are harming the sanctity of the place and it is they who are violating the status quo,” he said.

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