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Bennett’s UN speech will urge action on Iran, won’t focus on Palestinians — aide

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is seated for a meeting with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin at the Pentagon in Washington, on August 25, 2021. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is seated for a meeting with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin at the Pentagon in Washington, on August 25, 2021. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett will refer to the Iranian nuclear program at some length in his first speech in front of the UN General Assembly tomorrow morning, sending a message that the time has come for concrete actions to stop Tehran, a senior member of his entourage says in New York City.

“The Iranian nuclear program should be dealt with through actions,” the adviser says, noting that speeches and international forums have their importance as well.

“The [message] will be that we are at a critical stage in the Iranian nuclear program,” the official says, pointing at Iran’s continued enrichment and the possible resumption of nuclear talks with world powers in Geneva.

Bennett will also address Iran’s support for regional terrorism and armed proxies, and he will speak briefly about Iran’s new hardline leadership headed by President Ebrahim Raisi.

Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi speaks before parliament in the capital Tehran, on August 25, 2021. (Atta Kenare/AFP)

He is expected to briefly address the Palestinian issue, but will not focus on it.

Israel’s relationship with the world is rich and multi-faceted, and should not be defined by the ongoing conflict with the Palestinians, the adviser said.

Bennett took a particularly active role in crafting the address, according to the adviser.

“He decided at a certain stage that he wants it to be his speech, also because it’s his first speech, and he wrote it himself to a great extent,” the adviser says, adding that there was an intensive back-and-forth process of dialogue and edits.

In general, the speech will reflect “a new generation of leadership” and will seek to showcase a positive reflection of Israel’s ethos of dynamism and seeking solutions.

Israel’s COVID-19 response will be part of that message, explaining to the world how Israel is handling the pandemic without more oppressive lockdowns, and what lessons the Israeli experience has to offer the world.

“This is the time to tell the story of Israel,” says the adviser.

Bennett will also speak about the encouraging trends seen in the Abraham Accords normalization agreements signed last year with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

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