In an emotional address before the United Nations General Assembly Thursday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rebuked world powers for failing to challenge Iran over its threats to destroy Israel.
“Last month, [Iranian Supreme Leader Ali] Khamenei made his genocidal intentions clear. Before Iran’s top clerical body, the assembly of experts, he spoke about Israel, home to over six million Jews. He pledged, quote, ‘There will be no Israel in 25 years.’” Netanyahu said in the UN plenum.
“Seventy years after the murder of six million Jews, Iran’s rulers promise to destroy my country, to murder my people, and the response from this body, the response from nearly every one of the governments represented here, has been absolutely nothing. Utter silence. Deafening silence,” he added.
Netanyahu then stood in silence for 44 seconds, staring reproachfully at the crowd.
“Perhaps you can now understand why Israel is not joining you in celebrating this deal,” he said. “If Iran’s rulers were working to destroy your country, perhaps you’d be less enthusiastic about the deal.”
While Iran deployed terror groups and weapons to multiple Mideast nations, Netanyahu said, world powers, including Western governments, were rushing to embrace the regime in Tehran.
“We see a world celebrating this bad deal, rushing to embrace and do business with a regime openly committed to our destruction,” he said, referring to the nuclear deal, signed between Iran and six world powers in Vienna in July, that Israel has vociferously opposed.
“Check your enthusiasm at the door,” he said. “For those of you who believe that the deal in Vienna will bring a change in Iran’s policy, just listen to what Khamenei said five days after the deal was reached: ‘Our policies toward the arrogant government of the United States will not change. The United States,’ he vowed, ‘will continue to be our enemy.’ Giving the mullahs more money will fuel repression inside Iran. As the leader of a country defending itself every day against Iran’s growing aggression, I wish I could take comfort in the claims that this deal” will prevent an Iranian nuclear weapon.
“Does anyone seriously believe that flooding a radical theocracy with weapons and cash will curb its appetite for aggression?” he asked.
Netanyahu offered an explicit warning to the international community. Israel “will not allow Iran to break in, to sneak in, or to walk into the nuclear weapons club,” he said.
“I know that preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons remains the official policy of the international community,” he added dismissively, “but no one should question Israel’s commitment to defend ourselves against those who seek our destruction.
“So here’s my message to the rulers of Iran: Your plans to destroy Israel will fail. Israel will not permit any force on Earth to threaten its future. And here’s my message to all the countries represented here: Whatever resolutions you may adopt here, whatever decisions you take in your capitals, Israel will do whatever it must do to defend our state and to defend our people.”
With the allusion to possible Israeli military action, he then demanded an international commitment to implementing the deal.
“Distinguished delegates, as this deal with Iran moves ahead, I hope you’ll enforce it – how can I put this? – with a little more rigor than you showed with the six Security Council resolutions which Iran has systematically violated and have now been discarded. Make sure that inspectors actually inspect, that snap-back sanctions actually snap back, and the violations aren’t swept under the Persian rug.”
He added, “One thing I can assure you: Israel will be watching, closely. One thing the international community needs to do is clear. First, make Iran comply with all its nuclear obligations. Keep Iran’s feet to the fire. Second, check Iran’s regional aggression. Support and strengthen those fighting Iran’s aggression, beginning with Israel. Third, use sanctions and all the tools available to you to tear down Iran’s global terror network.”
Netanyahu concluded his speech by turning to the Palestinian arena, reiterating his past insistence that Israel under his stewardship “remains committed to achieving peace with the Palestinians as well.
“Israelis know the price of war. I know the price of war. I was nearly killed in battle. I lost many friends. I lost my beloved brother Yoni… I am prepared to immediately [begin] direct peace negotiations with the Palestinian Authority without any preconditions whatsoever.”
He spoke briefly about Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s speech the previous day in the General Assembly, when the Palestinian leader said the PA was no longer obligated by the Oslo peace accords.
“Unfortunately, President Abbas said yesterday that he is not prepared to do this,” Netanyahu said. “Well, I hope he changes his mind, because I remain committed to a vision of two states for two peoples in which a demilitarized Palestinian state recognizes the Jewish state.”
He sought to place the blame for stalled talks on the Palestinians. “The peace process began over two decades ago, yet despite the best efforts of six Israeli prime ministers – Rabin, Peres, Barak, Sharon, Olmert and myself – the Palestinians have consistently refused to end the conflict and make peace with Israel…. How can Israel make peace with Palestinians who can’t even sit at the negotiating table?”
And he did not mince words in rejecting Abbas’s claim that Israel was seeking to change the status quo on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, holy to both Jews and Muslims, which has seen a spate of violence between Muslim activists and Israeli security forces in recent weeks.
“President Abbas, stop spreading lies about Israel’s alleged intentions on the Temple Mount. Israel is fully committed to maintaining the status quo there. What President Abbas should be speaking out against are the actions of militant Islamists who are smuggling explosives into the al-Aqsa Mosque and trying to prevent Jewish and Christian” visitors from entering the site.