Mossad chief Yossi Cohen is leading Israel’s “hawkish line” on Iran, calling for immediate action to ensure that Tehran cannot attain the bomb, an Israeli TV report said Sunday.
The report came as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prepared to address the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, with his focus to again be on confronting Iran.
Channel 2 on Sunday paraphrased Cohen as asserting that “Today’s Iran is the North Korea of yesterday, and so we need to act now so that we don’t wake up to [an Iranian] bomb.”
Other Israeli security officials, the report said, however, are warning that Israel should not be pushing the US into another Middle Eastern adventure, given what happened when the US tackled Iraq and Saddam’s ostensible weapons of mass destruction over a decade ago.
Netanyahu will for the first time directly address Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei in his speech to the UN, Israeli sources said.
Netanyahu’s speech, scheduled for Tuesday, 8:00 p.m. Israel time, will focus on Iran and be shorter than in previous years, the sources said.
Speaking to reporters on Friday at his hotel in New York after wrapping up a trip to Latin America, Netanyahu said that the main message of his UN speech will be that “Israel will not tolerate an Iranian military presence on our northern borders. An [Iranian] military presence endangers not just us, but also our Arab neighbors.”
Netanyahu has repeatedly warned against Iran’s military ambitions in the area, Tehran’s bid to establish a territorial “corridor” all the way to the Mediterranean, and an increased Iranian presence on Israel’s northern border.
Earlier last week, Netanyahu said Israel wanted to see the 2015 Iran nuclear deal — which offered Iran relief from punishing sanctions in exchange for having it roll back its nuclear program — either amended or canceled altogether.
“Our position is straightforward. This is a bad deal. Either fix it — or cancel it. This is Israel’s position,” said Netanyahu in Buenos Aires.
During his scheduled Monday meeting with US President Donald Trump, Netanyahu is set to present a proposal for rolling back the two-year-old deal, signed by the Obama administration and other P5+1 powers.
Netanyahu is reportedly preparing a specific formula for either scrapping the historic deal or amending it. His proposal will detail how “to cancel or at the very least introduce significant changes” to the accord, a Channel 2 news report said.
On Monday, at 1 p.m. local time, Netanyahu will meet with Trump in the New York Palace Hotel. Both leaders will make brief statements to the press to open the meeting, before continuing their discussion behind closed doors.
Later in the afternoon, Netanyahu is set to meet the president of Panama, Juan Carlos Varela; the prime minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe; and Rwandan President Paul Kagame, at the UN.
The prime minister is also scheduled to meet Brazilian President Michel Temer for the first time since the South American country rejected Dani Dayan as Israel’s candidate for ambassador there due to his past links to the settler movement. Dayan now serves as Israel’s consul general in New York. Brazil was notably left out of Netanyahu’s last week’s Latin America trip,
On Tuesday morning, the prime minister is expected to attend Trump’s first address to the UN. A few hours later, at around 1:30 p.m., Netanyahu will deliver his own speech.