'No poster boards or drawings'

PMO: Bennett’s UN speech will be unlike Netanyahu’s; ex-PM: He can learn from me

The premier will not use predecessor’s trademark visual aids as he seeks to project determination against Iran; will also address Jewish organizations in NY

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett delivers televised remarks at Ben Gurion Airport, on June 22, 2021. (Jack Guez/AFP)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett delivers televised remarks at Ben Gurion Airport, on June 22, 2021. (Jack Guez/AFP)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett will not be whipping out the posterboard visual aids his predecessor Benjamin Netanyahu made famous when Bennett addresses the United Nations General Assembly next week, his spokesman said on Thursday.

“The speech will be different than the style of Netanyahu’s speeches,” said his spokesman, in a not-so-subtle dig at the former premier. “There will not be visual aids, poster boards, drawings, and the like.”

In his 2012 speech to the UN, Netanyahu famously used a cartoon drawing of a bomb to illustrate the dangers of Iranian nuclear enrichment.

“This is a bomb. This is a fuse,” he said while pointing at the image.

He continued using such devices in subsequent speeches.

Netanyahu responded on Twitter: “Bennett’s obsession with distinguishing himself from Netanyahu in any way possible is costing Israel dearly in the fight against the coronavirus, in the fight against nuclear Iran and in the diplomatic fight against the Palestinians.

“Instead of ridiculously attacking prime minister Netanyahu’s numerous and successful speeches at the UN, Bennett should read these speeches carefully and learn how to capture world attention and how to enlist it for the interests of the State of Israel,” he continued.

Bennett will stress in his speech that Israel will do what it must in order to confront Iran, but there will be no warnings or bluster, the spokesman added.

The main focus of Bennett’s comments will be a defense of Israel against its detractors, including international organizations and the UN itself, he said.

Talks on Iran’s nuclear program, which have been held in Vienna, have stalled as Iran’s hardline new president, Ebrahim Raisi, has taken power.

Former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu set out his ‘red line’ for Iran on a cartoon-bomb drawing during a speech to the UN General Assembly, on September 27, 2012. (Avi Ohayon/GPO/Flash90)

In his UN address on Tuesday, US President Joe Biden stressed his commitment to preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, reiterating his administration’s willingness to rejoin the 2015 accord limiting the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program.

Bennett’s address will take place next Monday, at 9 a.m. local time (4 p.m. Israel time), meaning that he will manage to squeeze in the speech less than three hours before the Shemini Atzeret holiday begins. Still, many Israelis will be more focused on holiday preparations than the prime minister’s speech.

US President Joe Biden addresses the 76th Session of the UN General Assembly, on September 21, 2021, at UN headquarters in New York City. (Eduardo Munoz-Pool/Getty Images/AFP)

The trip will be Bennett’s second official visit to the United States as prime minister. On August 27, Bennett met with Biden at the White House, with both sides seeking to exude an atmosphere of warmth and cooperation.

Bennett’s spokesman also said that the prime minister will host a meeting with the heads of Jewish organizations, which he was largely unable to do during his trip to Washington, DC.

While in New York, the prime minister will speak about the connection between Jewish communities around the world and Israel, using the diverse makeup of the current government as a means of attracting the support of Jews who distanced themselves from Israel in recent years for ideological reasons.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the General Assembly at the United Nations in New York September 27, 2018, and holds up a placard detailing alleged Hezbollah missile sites in Beirut. (AFP / TIMOTHY A. CLARY)

Bennett will also talk about his own personal story as the son of US immigrants to Israel.

Leaders of some of Israel’s regional partners — both those that recognize Israel and those who prefer quiet ties — as well as its foes spoke this week at the General Assembly.

The kings of Jordan and Saudi Arabia used their speeches on Wednesday to urge a two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by creating a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Jordan’s monarch recalled the 11-days of fighting between Israel and Gaza earlier this year in his speech, saying that the latest round of conflict was a reminder that the status quo is “unsustainable.”

Jordan’s King Abdullah addresses the UN General Assembly in a pre-recorded speech, aired on September 22, 2021. (Screenshot/YouTube)

Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan slammed Israel’s “oppression” of Palestinians and “violations” in Jerusalem during his Tuesday address, calling for the resumption of peace talks.

Erdogan, a frequent critic of Israel, emphasized “the necessity of reviving the peace process and looking forward to a two-state solution again as soon as possible without further delay.”

Also on Tuesday, Iran’s new president slammed US sanctions imposed on his nation as a mechanism of war, packing a full slate of direct criticism of the US into his first UN address as head of state.

“Sanctions are the US’ new way of war with the nations of the world,” Raisi said. Although some 100 heads of state and government are attending the UN General Assembly meeting in New York this week, Raisi delivered his remarks from Tehran remotely, as some others have chosen to do.

Raisi, who was sworn in last month after the Iranian election, is a conservative cleric and former judiciary chief who is close to Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. He used his time before world leaders to slam the US and espouse Iran’s Islamic political identity.

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