Netanyahu hails Trump’s ‘courageous’ UN speech blasting Iran
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Netanyahu hails Trump’s ‘courageous’ UN speech blasting Iran

Ahead of his own address, PM praises US president for call to combat 'the great dangers facing our world'

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara listen to US president Donald Trump address the UN General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York on September 19, 2017. (Avi Ohayon/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara listen to US president Donald Trump address the UN General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York on September 19, 2017. (Avi Ohayon/GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised US President Donald Trump’s speech at the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, in which the American blasted Iran and North Korea, calling it the most “courageous speech” he had ever heard at the world body.

“In over 30 years in my experience with the UN, I never heard a bolder or more courageous speech,” Netanyahu said in a statement after the speech. “President Trump spoke the truth about the great dangers facing our world, and issued a powerful call to confront them in order to ensure the future of humanity.”

Netanyahu, who, in attendance at Trump’s speech along with his wife Sara, applauded enthusiastically at turns. He is set to speak at the UN later Tuesday in an address expected to include a scathing rebuke of the Iran nuclear deal and Tehran’s support for terror groups.

In a video filmed at the UN ahead of his speech and posted on social media, Netanyahu said his speech would not be one the Iranians will soon forget.

“Today I will say things that I believe the ruler of Iran and also the people in Iran will remember forever,” he said in Hebrew. “I think they will also remember what President Trump said here.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara listen to US president Donald Trump address the UN General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York on September 19, 2017. (Avi Ohayon/GPO)

While refraining from calling to rip up 2015 agreement, which placed limits on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief and which Trump said Monday that the US may scrap, the US president said, “We cannot abide by an agreement if it provides cover for the eventual construction of a nuclear program.”

“The Iran deal is one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the US has ever entered into to. Frankly, that deal was an embarrassment to the US,” he added, echoing previous criticism of the deal.

Netanyahu, who has called for Iran deal to be amended or scrapped, said he presented Trump with a detailed plan on how to “fix” the nuclear agreement with Iran during a meeting Monday.

In addition to criticizing the Iran nuclear deal, Netanyahu called for rolling back “Iran’s growing aggression in the region, especially in Syria,” in a joint press conference with Trump ahead of their meeting.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and US President Donald Trump are seen prior to their meeting at the Palace Hotel in New York City ahead of the United Nations General Assembly on September 18, 2017.(AFP Photo/Brendan Smialowski)

In his speech at the UN, Trump addressed Iran’s regional military expansion, accusing the Islamic Republic of exporting “violence, bloodshed and chaos” throughout the Middle East through its funding of terror groups that threaten Israel and Arab countries.

“Rather than use its resources to improve Iranian lives, its oil profits go to Hezbollah and other terror groups that kill innocent Muslims and attack their Arab and Israeli neighbors,” he said, while adding that Iranian funds also “shore up [Syrian President] Bashar Assad’s dictatorship, fuel Yemen’s civil war and undermine peace in the entire Middle East.”

“Iran’s government must stop funding terrorists,” he said, calling the regime in Tehran “murderous.”

US President Donald Trump speaks during the UN General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York on September 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

While Trump also addressed a number of other major international concerns, namely North Korea’s nuclear program under “rocket man” Kim Jong-Un, he noticeably made no mention of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and attempts to reach a peace agreement.

Speaking alongside Netanyahu on Monday, Trump had reiterated his desire to broker an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, telling the visiting Israeli prime minister there was a “good chance” such an accord could happen.

“We’re going to be discussing many things, among them peace between the Palestinians and Israel,” Trump told reporters while sitting alongside Netanyahu in the New York Palace Hotel. “It would be a fantastic achievement. We’re giving it an absolute go. I think there’s a good chance that it could happen.”

Netanyahu, for his part, said the two would discuss how “we can seize the opportunity for peace between Israel and the Palestinians and Israel and the Arab world. I think these things go together.”

Netanyahu met later Monday with Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi for the first time publicly, with the Egyptian leader expressing “his desire to assist in efforts to achieve peace between Israel and the Palestinians and the region,” according to a readout from the Prime Minister’s Office.

Raphael Ahren contributed to this report.

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