Netanyahu: Threats to home front are ‘dwarfed’ by danger of a nuclear Iran
PM says he urged Ban Ki-moon not to go to Tehran this month, but UN secretary-general did not change his plans
The various threats to the Israel home front are “dwarfed” by the danger of Iran attaining nuclear weapons, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday during the weekly cabinet meeting.
He said Israel’s home front defensive capability was much improved of late. “For years, Israeli governments have not invested enough in the home front,” he said. “This government has invested billions in the Iron Dome, the Arrow system and in facilities construction.”
But, he continued, “all the threats directed at the home front are dwarfed by another threat of a different size and scope. And so I say again: Iran must not be allowed to attain nuclear weapons.”
Netanyahu confirmed that he spoke at the weekend with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, and urged him not to attend this month’s Non-Aligned Movement conference in Tehran. But Ban, he said, made no promise to change his plans.
“I told him that with all his good intentions, he must not give legitimization to a regime that disseminates the foulest anti-Semitism we have seen since World War II.” He said Iran, with its incessant public comments about Israel’s elimination, was in breach of UN conventions on inciting genocide, and that the UN should not legitimize a regime that flouted the UN’s own conventions.
Netanyahu also praised the work of outgoing Home Front Defense Minister Matan Vilnai, who will soon be going to Beijing as the new ambassador to China.
On Friday, Channel 2 News reported that Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak had “almost” decided to attack Iran to prevent the Islamic Republic from developing nuclear weapons. Top-level officials, including Vice Prime Minister Sivan Shalom, continue to speak out for increased Western economic sanctions against Iran instead of a strike in the near future.
The government has faced severe criticism for insufficiently readying the home front for the expected fallout from a strike on Iran.
Former opposition head Tzipi Livni said, at the beginning of August, that if Israel wanted to initiate a war it should make sure that its home front was protected first.
“There is no disputing that the home front is not ready. That is something that needs to be addressed before any decision is made about a strike,” said Livni. In a jab at Netanyahu, she added that there are some instances where “a super-tanker just won’t help,” referring to the large firefighting plane Netanyahu ordered to put out the Carmel forest fire of 2010.