Netanyahu: War on terror won’t be over unless Iran is contained along with IS

PM says West must not allow Tehran to use anti-IS fight as leverage in nuclear talks, warns radical Islam will be even bigger threat with nukes in tow

Yifa Yaakov is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at a conference in September 2014. (photo credit: Kobi Gideon/GPO/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at a conference in September 2014. (photo credit: Kobi Gideon/GPO/Flash90)

Iran must be contained along with the Islamic State terrorist organization, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday.

In an interview with Fox News’s Greta Van Susteren during his trip to the US, the prime minister warned that a radical Islamist ideology would be even more dangerous in the hands of a country possessing nuclear weapons.

On the heels of his address to the United Nations General Assembly Monday (full text here), in which he cautioned against the rise of militant Islam in all its forms, including the “fanatical creed” shared by both the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and Iran proxy Hamas in Gaza, Netanyahu said the “real war” must be waged not only against IS, but also against Iran’s attempts to acquire nuclear enrichment capabilities.

Though the prime minister said Israel “completely supports” the coalition led by US President Barack Obama to combat Islamic State and stop its murderous expansion, “defeating ISIS (the previous acronym of Islamic State) and letting Iran manufacture enough nuclear material for a bomb” would effectively mean that the war against radical and militant Islam would not be over.

“They’re trying to get a deal which will leave them with the ability to enrich enough uranium for a bomb — and have the tough sanctions lifted,” Netanyahu said of Iran’s stakes in the ongoing nuclear talks, the deadline for which was postponed to November amid incremental progress over the summer.

Of the deal Iran is hoping to ink with the P5+1 in Vienna, the prime minister said, “They shouldn’t get it.”

He explained that Iran’s nuclear ambitions were even more dangerous in view of the radical Islamist ideology espoused by its government — dangerous not just for Israel and the Middle East, but for the West as well.

The root of the problem, he said was the the goal of militant Islam “is to dominate the Middle East and then take over the world.” The top target? Not Israel, but the United States, which Netanyahu said “all factions” possessing radical Islamist ideologies, both Sunni and Shi’ite, call the “Great Satan.”

He stressed that while Islamic State fighters were radical Sunnis, the Iranian leadership must be viewed in a similar vein, as “radical Shi’ites.” Iran, IS, and Hamas, he said, all “have a fanatic ideology, want their domains expanded and ultimately want to change history” by reverting to an age in which women and minorities are subjugated.

To illustrate his point, Netanyahu then pulled out a photo depicting the imminent execution of a blindfolded man in a bright orange shirt, saying it did not show an IS beheading, but rather a Hamas execution of a suspected collaborator.

Hamas gunmen in Gaza with suspected collaborators in August 2014. (screen capture: YouTube/euronews)
Hamas gunmen in Gaza with suspected collaborators in August 2014. (screen capture: YouTube/euronews)

“There’s a difference — ISIS beheads people and Hamas puts a bullet in their heads. But if you are a victim or their family, the horror is the same. And they also have the same goal of dominating the world with their terrible Islamist perception,” Netanyahu said.

He warned that just as the radical Nazi ideology and ambitions of global domination had brought devastation, so would the growth of radical Islam do the same. He went on to warn that the world should not allow Iran, “the ultimate extremist power,” to gain more power.

Netanyahu warned that the West must not be pressured into allowing Iran to use cooperation with the US-led antiterror campaign as leverage for increased nuclear concessions.

“You don’t have to give Iran … what they want in the nuclear deal,” he said, explaining that Iran had already begun to fight the Syrian rebel forces from which IS emerged through its proxy, Hezbollah, before Obama announced the campaign. In recent weeks, Tehran warned that it may launch attacks against Islamic State near its borders.

“They’re going to fight ISIS anyway,” Netanyahu said. “If [Syrian President Bashar] Assad were to demand his chemical weapons back in return for fighting ISIS, he would be laughed out of court.”

He stressed that if the deal allows Iran to retain centrifuges and continue its uranium enrichment, Israel will consider it a “bad deal” proving Iran’s nuclear intentions were military.

“Why do they need centrifuges? They say they need it for civilian nuclear energy. That’s not true. Other big countries … have civilian nuclear programs but not one centrifuge,” he said. “This way, you are giving them the ability to build a nuclear bomb.”

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