WASHINGTON — With the Iranian nuclear pact a done deal, Israel and the United States need to work together to ensure that the Islamic Republic doesn’t violate the terms of the accord and to counter Tehran’s terrorist activities, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday.
“Despite our disagreement over the nuclear deal with Iran, I believe that America and Israel can and should work together now to ensure Iran complies with the deal, to curb Iran’s regional aggression and fight Iranian terrorism around the world,” he told nearly 3,000 delegates at the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America.
Netanyahu, implicitly reconciled to his failure to block the Iran deal, said he had had a “wonderful” meeting with US President Barack Obama at the White House on Monday, and asserted his confidence in the “unshakable alliance between Israel and America, an alliance that I believe will only get stronger.”
The prime minister thanked the president for his assurances to continue providing Israel with “indispensable help,” but added that “Israel is returning that assistance almost on a daily basis, in intelligence and many other things.”
Most important “is not merely Obama’s commitment to bolster Israel’s security for the next 10 years, but also his commitment to maintain Israel’s qualitative military edge so that Israel can defend itself by itself against any threat,” Netanyahu said to raucous applause.
He added that the Jewish state is forging new ties with Arab states in the region, and said “modernity must win out” in the war-torn region. “Israel will continue to thrive because I believe in the indomitable spirit of our people, in the unbreakable bond with the United States,” he said.
Netanyahu also spoke to American concerns that his government was stymieing peace efforts. “The reason we don’t have peace is the persistent Palestinian refusal to recognize the Jewish state in any boundary,” he said.
“The truth is that I seek peace,” he said, noting that Israel made peace with Egypt and Jordan because they both truly wanted peace and were willing to “bury the past and seize the future.”
“When Israel faces a Palestinian leadership that seeks peace, is willing to bury the past and makes no more claims on the Jewish state … when we meet a leader who is willing to finally recognize the Jewish state, we will have peace.”
He called that recognition “the most essential requirement.”
He was committed to a two-state solution with a demilitarized Palestinian state, he insisted.
Regarding tense relations and disagreement within the US Jewish community over the Iran deal, the prime minister acknowledged that “the last year wasn’t easy,” but urged Jewish leaders to unite around Israel.
“Great issues have been debated, passions ran high and the stakes were even higher,” he said. “Israel has no better friend than America and America has no better friend than Israel.”
Maintaining unity among the Jewish people is of “paramount importance,” the prime minister added. “There’s only one Jewish people. There’s only one Jewish state. Now more than ever we must unite the Jewish people and secure the Jewish state.”
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.