A Cup of Trembling
The photo above is the Israeli Knesset in Jerusalem as viewed from my bedroom window. The primary function of the Knesset is the legislation of laws and their revision when necessary. The decisions that are made within this building are destined to affect not only the small nation of Israel but will reverberate throughout the entire world.
Israel is at the brink of having to make a critical decision concerning a pre-emptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. The spiritual leader of Iran is the Grand Ayatollah Sayyad Ali Hosseini Khomeini. Khomeini has threatened Israel with inhalation by the year 2013, nevertheless, he knows very well that in October of 2012 Israel could attack Iran and he has voiced his concerns about the punishing sanctions and the reality of an Israeli attack at this juncture.
The presiding president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and his government is working feverishly around the clock to develop a nuclear bomb, while also developing or acquiring many other types of sophisticated weapons.
The commander of the Revolutionary Guard Corp Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari said, “the war with ‘cancerous tumor Israel’ “will eventually happen” and the Islamic Republic would “destroy the Jewish state.” Jafari said, “If Israel starts something, they will be destroyed and it will be the end of the story for them.”
Unfortunately, much of the world is more concerned with the Strait of Hormuz remain open to the flow of oil they need than they are about the survival of the Jewish State. Iran has confirmed that its plan to close the Strait of Hormuz has been finalized and is ready to be put into action as soon as confirmation is received from the Supreme Leader Khomeini.
What should Israel do?
“And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? If the Lord be God, follow Him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.” I Kings 18:21
Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.” Joel 3:14
“Keep thou not silence, O God: hold not thy peace, and be not still, O God.
For, lo, thine enemies make a tumult: and they that hate thee have lifted up the head.
They have taken crafty counsel against thy people and consulted against thy hidden ones.
They have said, Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel be no more in remembrance.
For they have consulted together with one consent: they are confederate against thee:
The tabernacles of Edom, and the Ishmaelites; of Moab, and the Hagarenes;
Gebal, and Ammon, and Amalek; the Philistines with the inhabitants of Tyre;
Assur also is joined with them: they have holpen the children of Lot. Selah.
Do unto them as the Midianites; as to Sisera, as to Jabin, at the brook of Kison:
Which perish at Endor: they became as dung for the earth.
Make their nobles like Oreb, and like Zeeb: yea, all their princes as Zebah, and Zalmunna:
Who said, Let us take to ourselves the houses of God in possession.
O my God, make them like a wheel; as the stubble before the wind.
As the fire burneth a wood, and the flame setteth the mountains on fire;
So persecute them with thy tempest, and make them afraid with thy storm.
Fill their faces with shame; that they may seek thy name, O Lord.
Let them be confounded and troubled for ever; let them be put to shame, and perish:
That men may know that thou, whose name alone is JEHOVAH, art the most high over all the earth.” Psalms 83:1-18
“The burden of the word of the Lord for Israel, saith the Lord, which stretcheth forth the heavens, and layeth the foundation of the earth, and formeth the spirit of man within.
Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all people round about when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem.
And in that day I will make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.” Zechariah 12:1-3
While this being just days before Yom Kippur 2012, I can assure you that this is not the ending of the Age of Grace when the Lord Himself will come back to the Mount of Olives and personally put down all rebellion. Nevertheless, the decisions that are made in the Knesset at this serious crossroad in Israel’s history could lead up to a time of much sorrow.
We have now passed the High Holy Days of 2013 and although there has been much suffering throughout the world through natural catastrophic calamities as well as more than 100,000 deaths in Syria's civil war, with millions displaced from their homes and completed unrest throughout the Middle East, Iran continues forward with their nuclear ambitions.
The charming words of the new president of Iran, Rouhani, may have softened the international body at the U.N., but for Israel, Iran's position towards the existence of Israel remains the same.
The Prime Minister's message to the United Nations was very simple, if Israel has to remove the threat of a nuclear Iran alone, it will.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to the 2013 U.N. General Assembly
I feel deeply honored and privileged to stand here before you today representing the citizens of the state of Israel.
We are an ancient people. We date back nearly 4,000 years to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. We have journeyed through time. We've overcome the greatest of adversities.
And we re-established our sovereign state in our ancestral homeland, the land of Israel. Now, the Jewish people's odyssey through time has taught us two things: Never give up hope, always remain vigilant.
Hope charts the future. Vigilance protects it. Today our hope for the future is challenged by a nuclear-armed Iran that seeks our destruction. But I want you to know, that wash;t always the case.
Some 2,500 years ago the great Persian king Cyrus ends the Babylonian exile of the Jewish people. He issued a famous edict in which he proclaimed the right of the Jews to return to the land of Israel and rebuild the Jewish temple in Jerusalem.
That's a Persian decree. And thus began a historic friendship between the Jews and the Persians that lasted until modern times. But in 1979 a radical regime in Tehran tried to stamp out that friendship. As it was busy crushing the Iranian people's hope for democracy, it always led wild chants of "death of the Jews."
Now, since that time, presidents of Iran have come and gone. Some presidents were considered moderates, other hard-liners. But they've all served that same unforgiving creed, that same unforgiving regime, that creed that is espoused and enforced by the real power in Iran, the dictator known as the supreme leader, first Ayatollah Khomeini and now Ayatollah Khomeini.
President Rouhani, like the presidents who came before him, is a loyal servant of the regime. He was one of only six candidates the regime permitted to run for office. See, nearly 700 other candidates were rejected.
So what made him acceptable? Well, Rouhani headed Iran's henchmen gunned down opposition leaders in a Berlin restaurant. They murdered 85 people at the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires. They killed 19 American soldiers by blowing up the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia.
Are we to believe that Rouhani, the national security adviser of Iran at the time, knew nothing about these attacks? Of course, he did, just as 30 years ago, Iran's security chiefs knew about the bombing in Beirut that killed 241 Americans Marines and 58 French paratroopers. Rouhani was also Iran's chief nuclear negotiator between 2003 and 2005.
He masterminded the strategy which enabled Iran to advance its nuclear weapons program behind a smoke screen of diplomatic engagement and very soothing rhetoric.
Now I know: Rouhani doesn't sound like Ahmadinejad. But when it comes to Iran's nuclear weapons program, the only difference between them is this: Ahmadinejad was a wolf in wolf's clothing.
Rouhani is a wolf is sheep's clothing, a wolf who thinks he can pull the eyes the wool over the eyes of the international community.
Well, like everyone else, I wish we could believe Rouhani's words, but we must focus on Iran's actions. And it's the brazen contrast, this extraordinary contradiction, between Rouhani's words and Iran's actions that is so startling.
Rouhani stood at this very podium last week and praised Iranian democracy-Iranian democracies. But the regime that he represents executes political dissidents by the hundreds and jails them by the thousands.
Rouhani spoke of, quote, "the human tragedy in Syria." Yet, Iran directly participates in Assad's murder and massacre of tens of thousands of innocent men, women, and children in Syria. And that regime is propping up a Syrian regime that just used chemical weapons against its own people.
Rouhani condemned the, quote, "violent scourge of terrorism." Yet, in the last three years alone, Iran has ordered, planned or perpetrated terrorist attacks in 25 cities in five continents.
Rouhani denounces, quote, "attempts to change the regional balance through proxies." Yet, Iran is actively destabilizing Lebanon, Yemen, Bahrain and, any other Middle Eastern countries.
Rouhani promises, quote, "constructive engagement with other countries." Yet, two years ago, Iranian agents tried to assassinate Saudi Arabia's ambassador in Washington, D.C. And just three weeks ago, an Iranian agent was arrested trying to collect information for possible attacks against the American embassy in Tel Aviv.
Some constructive engagement. I wish I could be moved by Rouhani's imitation to join his wave-a word against violence and extremism. Yet, the only waves Iran has generated in the last 30 years are waves of violence and terrorism that it has unleashed in the region and across the world.
Ladies and gentlemen, I wish I could believe Rouhani, but I don't because facts are stubborn things, and the facts are that Iran's savage record flatly contradicts Rouhani's soothing rhetoric.
Last Friday Rouhani assured us that in pursuit of its nuclear program, Iran-this is a quote-Iran has never chosen deceit and secrecy, never chosen deceit and secrecy. Well, in 2002 Iran was caught red-handed secretly building an underground centrifuge facility in Natanz.
And then in 2009 Iran was again caught red-handed secretly building a huge underground nuclear facility for uranium enrichment in a mountain near Qom.
Rouhani tells us not to worry. He assures us that all of this is not intended for nuclear weapons. Any of you believe that? If you believe that, here are a few questions you might want to ask. Why would a country build hidden underground enrichment facilities?
Why would a country with vast natural energy reserves invest billions in developing nuclear energy? Why would a country intent on merely civilian nuclear programs continue to defy multiple Security Council resolutions and incur the tremendous cost of crippling sanctions on its economy?
And why would a country with a peaceful nuclear program develop intercontinental ballistic missiles, whose sole purpose is to deliver nuclear warheads? You don't build ICBMs to carry TNT thousands of miles away; you build them for one purpose, to carry nuclear warheads. And Iran is building now ICBMs that the United States says could reach this city in three or four years.
Why would they do all this? The answer is simple. Iran is not building a peaceful nuclear program; Iran is developing nuclear weapons. Last year alone, Iran enriched three tons of uranium to 3 1/2 percent, doubled its stockpile of 20 percent enriched uranium and added thousands of new centrifuges, including advanced centrifuges.
It also continued work on the heavy water reactor in Iraq; that's in order to have another route to the bomb, a plutonium path. And since Rouhani's election and I stress this vast and feverish effort has continued unabated.
Ladies and gentlemen, underground nuclear facilities, heavy water reactors, advanced centrifuges, ICBMs. See, it's not that it's hard to find evidence that Iran has a nuclear program, a nuclear weapons program; it's hard to find evidence that Iran doesn't have a nuclear weapons program.
Last year when I spoke here at the U.N. I drew a red line. Now, Iran has been very careful not to cross that line but Iran is positioning itself to race across that line in the future at a time of its choosing.
Iran wants to be in a position itself to race across that line in the future at a time of its choosing. Iran wants to be in a position to rush forward to build nuclear bombs before the international community can detect it and much less prevent it.
Yet Iran faces one big problem, and that problem can be summed up in one word: sanctions. I have argued for many years, including on this podium, that the only way to peacefully prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons is to combine tough sanctions with a credible military threat.
And that policy today is bearing fruit. Thanks to the effort of many countries, many represented here, and under the leadership of the United States, tough sanctions have taken a big bite off the Iranian economy.
Oil revenues have fallen. The currency has plummeted, Banks are hard-pressed to transfer money. So as a result, the regime is under intense pressure from the Iranian people to get the sanctions relieved or removed.
That's why Rouhani got elected in the first place. That's why we launched his charm offensive. He definitely wants to get the sanctions lifted; I guarantee you that. But he doesn't want to give up Iranian's nuclear-Iran's nuclear weapons programs in return.
Now here's a strategy to achieve this. First, smile a lot. Smiling never hurts. Second, pay lip service to peace, democracy, and tolerance. Third, offer meaningless concessions in exchange for lifting sanctions.
And fourth, and the most important, ensure that Iran retains sufficient nuclear material and sufficient nuclear infrastructure to race to the bomb at a time it chooses to do so.
Do you know why Rouhani thinks he can get away with this? I mean, this is a ruse. It's a ploy. Why does Rouhani think he can get away with it? because he's gotten away with it before because his strategy of talking a lot and doing little has worked for him in the past.
He even brags about this. Here's what he said in his 2011 book about his time as Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, and I quote: "While we were talking to the Europeans in Tehran, we were installing equipment in Isfahan."
Now, for this of you who don't know, the Isfahan facility is an indispensable part of Iran's nuclear weapons program. That's where uranium ore called yellowcake is converted into an enriched form.
Rouhani boasted, and I quote, "By creating a calm environment a calm environment we were able to complete the work in Isfahan." He fooled the world once.
Now he thinks he can fool it again. You see, Rouhani thinks he can have yellowcake and eat it too. And he has another reason to believe that he can get away with this.
And that reason is called North Korea. Like Iran, North Korea also said its nuclear program was for peaceful purposes. Like Iran, North Korea also offered meaningless concessions and empty promises in return for sanctions relief.
In 2005 North Korea agreed to a deal that was celebrated the world over by many well-meaning people.
Here's what the New York Times editorial had to say about it, quote: "For years now, foreign policy insiders have pointed to North Korea as the ultimate nightmare, a closed, hostile and paranoid dictatorship with an aggressive nuclear weapons program.
Very few could envision a successful outcome, and yet North Korea agreed in principle this week to dismantle its nuclear weapons program, return to the NPT, abide by the treaty's safeguards and admit international inspectors." And finally, "diplomacy, it seems, does work after all."
Ladies and gentlemen, a year later, North Korea is, it pales in comparison to the danger of a nuclear-armed Iran. A nuclear-armed Iran would have a choke hold on the world's main energy supplies.
It would trigger nuclear tinderbox. And for the first time in history, it would make the specter of nuclear terrorism a clear and present danger. A nuclear-armed Iran in the Middle East wouldn't be another North Korea. It would be another 50 North Korea’s.
Now, I know that some in the international community think I'm exaggerating this threat. Sure, they know that Iran's regime leads these chants, "death to America, death to Israel,"that it pledges to wipe Israel off the map. But they think that this wild rhetoric is just bluster for domestic consumption. Have these people learned nothing from history?
The last century has taught us that when a radical regime with global lean red nothing from history? The last century has taught us that when a radical regime with global ambitions gets awesome power, sooner to later its appetite for aggression known no bounds.
That's the central lesson of the 20th century. And we cannot forget it. The world may have forgotten this lesson. The Jewish people have not.
Iran's fanaticism is not bluster. It's real. The fanatic regime must never be allowed to arm itself with nuclear weapons. I know that the world is weary of war. We in Israel, we know all too well the cost of war.
But history has taught us that to prevent war tomorrow, we must be firm today. And this raises the question, can diplomacy stop this threat? Well, the only diplomatic solution that would work is one that fully dismantles Iran's nuclear weapons program and prevents it from having one in the future.
President Obama rightly said that Iran's conciliatory words must be matched by transparent, verifiable and meaningful action. And to be meaningful, a diplomatic solution would require Iran to do four things.
First, cease all uranium enrichment. This is called for by several Security Council resolutions. Second, remove from Iran's territory the stockpiles of enriched uranium. Third, dismantle the infrastructure fro nuclear breakout capability, including the underground facility at Qom and the advanced centrifuges in Natanz. And, four, stop all work at the heavy water reactor in Iraq aimed at the production of plutonium.
These steps would put an end to Iran's nuclear weapons program and eliminate its breakout capability.
There are those who would readily agree to leave Iran with a residual capability to enrich uranium. I advise them to pay close attention to what Rouhani said in his speech to Iran's supreme cultural revolution-Supreme Cultural Revolutionary Council. This was published in 2005. I quote, This is what he said:
" A country that could enrich uranium to about 3.5 percent will also have the capability to enrich it to about 90 percent. Having fuel cycle capability virtually means that a country that possesses this capability is able to produce nuclear weapons." Precisely. this is why Iran's nuclear weapons program must be fully and verifiably dismantled. And this is why the pressure on Iran must continue.
So here is what the international community must do: First, keep up the sanctions. If Iran advances its nuclear weapons program during negotiations, strengthen the sanctions.
Second, don't agree to a partial deal. A partial deal would lift international sanctions that have taken years to put in place in exchange for cosmetic connections that will take only weeks for Iran to reverse.
Third, lift the sanctions only when Iran fully dismantles its nuclear weapons program. My friends, the international community has Iran on the ropes. If you want to knock out Iran's nuclear weapons program peacefully, don't let up the pressure.
Keep it up. We all want to give diplomacy with Iran a chance to succeed, but when it comes to Iran, the greater the pressure, the greater the chance. Three decades ago, President Ronald Reagan famously advised, "trust but verify".
When it comes to Iran's nuclear weapons program, here's my advice: Distrust, dismantle and verify.
Ladies and gentlemen, Israel will never acquiesce to nuclear arms in the hands of a rogue regime that repeatedly promises to wipe us off the map. Against such a threat, Israel will have no choice but to defend itself.
I want there to be no confusion on this point. Israel will not allow Iran to get nuclear weapons. If Israel is forced to stand alone, Israel will stand alone. Yet, in standing alone, Israel will know that we will be defending many, many others.
The dangers of a nuclear-armed Iran and the emergence of other threats in our region have led many of our Arab neighbors to recognize, finally recognize, that Israel is not their enemy. And this affords us the opportunity to overcome the historic animosities and build new relationships, new friendships, new hopes.
Israel welcomes engagement with the wider Arab world. We hope that our common interests and common challenges will help us forge a more peaceful future.
And Israel's continues to seek a historic compromise with our Palestinian neighbors, one that ends our conflict once and for all. We want peace based on security and mutual recognition, in which a demilitarized Palestinian state recognized the Jewish state of Israel.
I remain committed to achieving a historic reconciliation and building a better future for Israelis and Palestinians alike.
Now, I have no illusions about how difficult this will be to achieve. Twenty years ago, the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians began. Six Israeli prime ministers, myself included, have not succeeded at achieving peace with the Palestinians.
My predecessors were prepared to make painful concessions. So am I. But so far the Palestinian leaders haven't been prepared to offer the painful concessions they must make in order to end the conflict.
For peace to be achieved, the Palestinians must finally recognize the Jewish state, and Israel's security needs must be met.
I am prepared to make a historic compromise for genuine and enduring peace, but I will never compromise on the security of my people and of my country, the one and only Jewish state.
Ladies and gentlemen, one cold day in the late 19th century, my grandfather Nathan and his younger brother Judah were standing in a railway station in the heart of Europe.
They were seen by a group of anti-Semitic hoodlums who ran towards them waving clubs, screaming "Death to the Jews."
My grandfather shouted to his younger brother to flee and save himself and then stands alone against the raging mob to slow it down. They beat him senseless, they left him for dead, and before he passed out, covered in his own blood, he said to himself "What a disgrace, what a disgrace. The descendants of the Maccabees lie in the mud powerless to defend themselves."
He promised himself then that if he lived, he would take his family to the Jewish homeland and help build a future for the Jewish people. I stand here today as Israel's prime minister because my grandfather kept that promise.
And so many other Israelis have a similar story, a parent or a grandfather who fled every conceivable oppression and came to Israel to start a new life in our ancient homeland.
Together we've transformed a bludgeoned Jewish people, left for dead, into a vibrant, thriving nation, a defending itself with the courage of modern Maccabees, developing limitless possibilities for the future.
In our time the Biblical prophecies are being realized. As the prophet Amos said, they shall rebuild ruined cities and inhabit them. They shall plant vineyards and drink their wine. They shall till gardens and eat their fruit.
And I will plant them upon their soil never to be uprooted again (In Hebrew).
Ladies and gentlemen, the people of Israel have come home never to be uprooted again.
Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu
Born 21 October 1949 is an Israeli politician and the current Prime Minister of Israel. He also currently serves as a member of the Knesset, the Chairman of the Likud party, Foreign Affairs Minister and Minister of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs.
Born in Tel Aviv to secular Jewish parents, Netanyahu is the first Israeli prime minister born in Israel after the establishment of the state. Netanyahu joined the Israel Defense Force during the Six-Day War in 1967 and became a team leader in the Sayeret Matkal special forces unit.
He took part in many missions, including Operation Inferno (1968), Operation Gift (1968) and Operation Isotope (1972), during which he was shot in the shoulder.
He fought on the front lines in the War of Attrition and the Yom Kippur War in 1973, taking part in special forces raids along the Suez Canal, and then leading a commando assault deep into Syrian territory.
He achieved the rank of captain before being discharged. Netanyahu served as the Israeli ambassador to the United Nations from 1984 to 1988, member of the Likud party, and was Prime Minister from June 1996 to July 1999.
He moved from the political arena to the private sector after being defeated in the 1999 election for Prime Minister by Ehud Barak.
Netanyahu returned to politics in 2002 as Foreign Affairs Minister (2002-2003) and Finance Minister (2003-2005) in Ariel Sharon's government, but he departed the government over disagreements regarding the Gaza disengagement plan.
He retook the Likud leadership in December 2005, after Sharon left to form a new party. In 2006 election, Likud did poorly, winning 12 seats. In December 2006, Netanyahu became the official Leader of the Opposition in the Knesset and Chairman of Likud.
In 2007, he retained the Likud leadership by beating Moshe Feiglin in party elections. Following the 2009 parliamentary election, in which Likud placed second and right-wing parties won a majority, Netanyahu formed a coalition government.
After the victory in the 2013 elections, he became the second person to be elected to the position of Prime Minister for a third term, after Israel's founder David Ben-Gurion.
Netanyahu's older brother, Yonatan Netanyahu, commander of Sayeret Matkal, as killed in 1976 while commanding the ground assault element during Operation Entebbe. Hid younger brother, Iddo Netanyahu, is a playwright.
Their father, Benzion Netanyahu, was a prominent Israeli historian.
In 2005, Netanyahu was voted the 18th-greatest Israeli of all time, in a poll by the Israeli news website Ynet to determine whom the general public considered the 200 Greatest Israelis.
In 2012, Netanyahu was listed 23rd on the Forbes magazine's list of "The World's Most Powerful People." In 2013, he was ranked third on the list of the "Most Influential Jews in the World" by The Jerusalem Post. He had been ranked first on the list in 2012 and 2010.
Early life and career
Netanyahu was born in 1949 in Tel Aviv, to Zila (nee Segal; 28 August 1912-31 January 2000) and professor Benzion Netanyahu (1910-2012), the middle of three children.
He was initially raised and educated in Jerusalem, where he attended the Henrietta Szold Elementary School. A copy of his evaluation from his 6th-grade teacher Ruth Rubenstein revealed that Netanyahu was courteous, polite, helpful, his work was "responsible and punctual," and that Netanyahu was friendly, disciplined, cheerful, brave, active, and obedient.
Between 1956 and 1958, and again from 1963 to 1967, his family lived in the United States in Cheltenham Township, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia, where he attended and graduated from the Cheltenham High School and was active in a debate club.
To this day, he speaks American English with a Philadelphia accent.
After graduating from high school in 1967, Netanyahu returned to Israel to enlist in the IDF. He trained as a combat soldier and became a team leader in an elite special forces unit of the IDF, Sayeret Matkal.
He took part in numerous cross-border assault raids during the 1969-70 War of Attrition. He was involved in many other missions, including Operation Inferno (1968), and the rescue of the hijacked Sabena Flight 571 in May 1972 in which he was shot in the shoulder.
After his army service, Netanyahu returned to the United States in late 1972 to study architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He returned to Israel in October 1973 to serve in the Yom Kippur War for a 40 day period.
While there, he fought in special forces raids along the Suez Canal, as well as leading a commando team deep into Syrian territory. He then returned to the United States and eventually completed an S.B. degree in architecture in 1975 and earned an S.M. degree from the MIT Sloan School of Management in 1977.
Concurrently, he studied political science at Harvard University. At that time he changed his name to Benjamin Ben Netai (Nitai, a reference to both Mount Niati and to the eponymous Jewish sage Nittai of Arbela, was a pen name often used by his father for articles).
Years later, in an interview with the media, Netanyahu clarified that he decided to do so to make it easier for Americans to pronounce his name. This fact has been used by his political rivals to accuse him indirectly of a lack of Israeli national identity and loyalty.
In 1976 Netanyahu lost his older brother Yonatan Netanyahu. Yonatan was serving as the commander of Benjamin's former unit, the Sayeret Matkal, and was killed in action during the counter-terrorism hostage-rescue mission Operation Entebbe which his unit rescued more than 100 Israeli hostages hijacked by terrorists and flown to the Entebbe Airport in Uganda.
At MIT, Netanyahu graduated near the top of his class and was recruited as a management consultant for the Boston Consulting Group in Boston, Massachusetts, working at the company between 1976 and 1978.
At the Boston Consulting Group, he was a colleague of Mitt Romney. Romney remembers that Netanyahu at the time was: "A strong personality with a distinct point of view."
In 1978, Netanyahu returned to Israel. Between 1978 and 1980 he ran the Jonathan Netanyahu anti-Terror institute, a non-governmental organization devoted to the study of terrorism; the institute held a number of international conferences focused on the discussion of international terrorism.
From 1980 to 1982 he was director of marketing for Rim Industries in Jerusalem. During this period Netanyahu made his first connections with several Israeli politicians, including Minister Moshe Arens, who appointed him as his Deputy Chief of Mission at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C., a position he held from 1982 until 1984.
Between 1984 and 1988 Netanyahu served as the Israeli ambassador to the United Nations. It was then that Netanyahu met the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson.
Early political career: 1988-1996
Prior to the 1988 Israeli legislative election, Netanyahu returned to Israel and joined the Likud party. In the internal elections in the Likud center, Netanyahu became the fifth place on the list.
Later on, he was elected as a Knesset member of the 12th Knesset, and was appointed as a deputy of the foreign minister Moshe Arens, and later on David Levy. Netanyahu and Levy did not cooperate and the rivalry between the two only intensified afterward.
During the Madrid Conference of 1991 Netanyahu was among members the Israeli delegation headed by Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir. After the Madrid Conference Netanyahu was appointed as Deputy Minister in the Israeli Prime Minister's Office.
Following the defeat of the Likud party in the 1992 Israeli legislative elections the Likud party held a primary election in 1993 select its leader, and Netanyahu was victorious, defeating Benny Begin, son of the late Prime Minister Menachem Begin, and veteran politician David Levy (Sharon initially sought Likud party leadership as well, but quickly withdrew when it was evident that he was attracting minimal support).
Shamir retired from politics shortly after the Likud's defeat in the 1992 elections.
Following the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, his temporary successor Shimon Peres decided to call early elections in order to give the government a mandate to advance the peace process.
Netanyahu was the Likud's candidate for Prime Minister in the 1996 Israeli legislative election which took place on 26 May 1996 and was the first Israeli elections in which Israelis elected their Prime Minister directly.
Netanyahu hired American Republican political operative Arthur Finkelstein to run his campaign, and although the American style of sound bites and sharp attacks elicited harsh criticism from inside Israel, it proved effective.
The method was later copied by Ehud Barak during the 1999 election campaign in which he beat Netanyahu.
Netanyahu won the election, becoming the youngest person in the history of the position and the first Israeli Prime Minister to be born in the State of Israel (Yitzhak Rabin was born in Jerusalem, under the British Mandate of Palestine, prior to the 1948 founding of the Israeli state.)
Netanyahu's victory over the pre-election favorite Shimon Peres surprised many. The main catalyst in the downfall of the latter was a wave of suicide bombings shortly before the elections; on 3 and 4 March 1996, Palestinians carried out two suicide bombings, killing 32 Israelis, with Peres seemingly unable to stop the attacks.
Unlike Peres, Netanyahu did not trust Yasser Arafat and conditioned any progress at the peace process on the Palestinian National Authority fulfilling its obligations mainly fighting terrorism, and ran with the campaign slogan "Netanyahu making a safe peace".
However, although Netanyahu won the election for Prime Minister, Labor won the Knesset elections, beating the Likud Gesher Tzomet alliance, meaning Netanyahu had to rely on a condition with the Ultra-orthodox parties, Shas and UTJ (whose social welfare policies flew in the face of his capitalistic outlook) in order to govern.
First Prime Ministership: 1996-1999
Further information: Twenty-seventh government of Israel.
A spate of suicide bombings reinforced the Likud position for security. Hamas claimed responsibility for most of the bombings.
As Prime Minister, Netanyahu raised many questions about many central premises of the Oslo peace process.
One of his main points was disagreement with the Oslo premise that the negotiations should proceed in stages, meaning that concessions should be made to Palestinians before any resolution was reached on major issues, such as the status of Jerusalem, and the amending of the Palestinian National Charter.
Oslo supporters had claimed that the multi-stage approach would build goodwill among Palestinians and would propel them to seek reconciliation when these major issues were raised in later stages.
Netanyahu said that these concessions only gave encouragement to extremist elements, without receiving any tangible gestures in return. He called for tangible gestures of Palestinian goodwill in return for Israeli concessions.
Despite his stated differences with the Oslo Accords, Prime Minister Netanyahu continued their implementation, but his Prime Ministership saw a marked slowdown in the Peace Process.
In 1996, Netanyahu and Jerusalem's mayor Ehud Olmert decided to open an exit in the Arab Quarter for the Western Wall Tunnel, which prior Prime Minister Shimon Peres had instructed to be put on hold for the sake of peace.
This sparked three days of rioting by Palestinians, resulting in both Israelis and Palestinians being killed.
In January 1997 Netanyahu signed the Hebron Protocol with the Palestinian Authority which resulted in the redeployment of Israeli forces in Hebron and the turnover of civilian authority in much of the area to the Palestinian Authority.
Eventually, the lack of progress of the peace of the peace process led to new negotiations which produced the Wye River Memorandum in 1998 which detailed the steps to be taken by the Israeli government and Palestinian Authority to implement the earlier Interim Agreement of 1995.
It was signed by Netanyahu and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, and on November 1998, Israel's 120 members parliament, the Knesset, approved the Wye River Memorandum by a vote of 75-19.
As Prime Minister, Netanyahu emphasized a policy of "three no(s)": no withdrawal from the Golan Heights, no discussion of the case of Jerusalem, no negotiations under any preconditions.
Netanyahu was opposed by the political left wing in Israel and also lost support from the right because of his concessions to the Palestinians in Hebron and elsewhere, and due to his negotiations with Arafat generally.
Netanyahu lost favor with the Israeli public after a long chain of scandals involving his marriage and corruption charges. In 1997, police recommended that Netanyahu be indicted on corruption charges for influence-peddling.
He was accused of appointing an attorney general who would reduce the charges and prosecutors ruled that there was insufficient evidence to go to trial.
In 1999, Netanyahu faced another scandal when the Israel Police recommended that he be tried for corruption for corruption for $100,000 in free services from a government contractor; Israel's attorney general did not prosecute, citing difficulties with evidence.
After being defeated by Ehud Barak in the 1999 election for Prime Minister, Netanyahu temporarily retired from politics. He subsequently served as a senior consultant with Israeli communications equipment developer BATM for two years.
Political downturn and recovery:2000-2003
With the fall of the Barak government in late 2000, Netanyahu expressed his desire to return to politics. By law, Barak's resignation was supposed to lead to elections for the prime minister position only.
Netanyahu insisted that general elections should be held, claiming that otherwise, it would be impossible to have a stable government.
Netanyahu decided eventually not to run for the prime minister position, a move which facilitated the surprising rise to power of Ariel Sharon, who at the time was considered less popular than Netanyahu.
In 2002, after the Israeli Labor Party left the coalition and vacated the position of foreign minister, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon appointed Netanyahu as Foreign Minister. Netanyahu as Foreign Minister. Netanyahu challenged Sharon for the leadership of the Likud party but failed to oust Sharon.
On 9 September 2002, a scheduled speech by Netanyahu at Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada was canceled after hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters overwhelmed security and smashed through a glass window. Netanyahu was not present at the protest, having remained at Montreal's Ritz-Carlton Hotel throughout the duration.
He later accused the activists of supporting terrorism and "mad zealotry." Weeks later on 1 October 2002 around 200 protesters met Netanyahu outside his Heinz Hall appearance in Pittsburgh although Pittsburgh Police, Israeli security and a Pittsburgh SWAT until allowed his speeches to continue downtown at the hall and the Duquesne Club as well as suburban Robert Morris University.
After the 2003 Israeli legislative election, in what many observers regarded as a surprise move, Sharon offered the Foreign Ministry to Silvan Shalom and offered Netanyahu the Finance Ministry.
Some pundits speculated that Sharon made the move because he deemed Netanyahu a political threat given his demonstrated effectiveness as Foreign Minister and that by placing him in the Finance Ministry during a time of economic uncertainty, he could diminish Netanyahu's popularity.
Netanyahu accepted the new appointment after Sharon agreed to provide him with an unprecedented level of independence in running the ministry.
As Finance Minister, Netanyahu undertook an economic plan in order to restore Israel's economy from its low point during the al-Aqsa Intifada.
The plan involved a move toward more liberalized markets, although it was not without its critics.
Netanyahu succeeded in passing several long-unresolved reforms, including an important reform in the banking system. However, opponents in the Labor party (and even a few within his own Likud) viewed Netanyahu's policies as "Thatcherite" attacks on the venerated Israeli social safety net.
Netanyahu threatened to resign from office in 2004 unless the Gaza pullout plan was put to a referendum.
He later modified the ultimatum and voted for the program in the Knesset, indicating immediately thereafter that he would resign unless a referendum was held within 14 days. He submitted his resignation letter on 7 August 2005, shortly before the Israeli cabinet voted 17 to 5 approve the initial phase of withdrawal from Gaza.
Likud leader and opposition leader: 2005-2009
Following the withdrawal of Sharon from the Likud, Netanyahu was one of several candidates who vied for the Likud leadership. His most recent attempt prior to this was in September 2005 when he had tried to hold early primaries for the position of the head of the Likud party, while the party held the office of Prime Minister thus effectively pushing Ariel Sharon out of office.
The party rejected this initiative. Netanyahu retook the leadership on 20 December 2005, with 47% of the primary vote, to 32% for Silvan Shalom and 15% for Moshe Feiglin.
In the March 2006 Knesset elections, Likud took the third place behind Kadima and Labor and Netanyahu served as Leader of the Opposition. On 14 August 2007, Netanyahu was reelected as chairman of the Likud and its candidate for the post of Prime Minister with 73% of the vote, against far-right candidate Moshe Feiglin and World Likud Chairman Danny Danon.
He opposed the 2008 Israel-Hamas ceasefire, like others in the Knesset opposition. Specifically, Netanyahu said, "This is not a relaxation, it's an Israeli agreement to the rearming of Hamas..What are we getting for this?
In the first half of 2008, doctors removed a small colon polyp that proved to be benign.
Following Livni's election to head Kadima and Olmert's resignation from the post of Prime Minister, Netanyahu declined to join the coalition Livni was trying to form and supported new elections, which were held in February 2009.
Netanyahu was the Likud's candidate for Prime Minister in the 2009 Israeli legislative election which took place on 10 February 2009, as Tzipi Livni, the previous Designated Acting Prime Minister under the Olmert government, had been unable to form a viable governing coalition.
Opinion polls showed Likud in the lead, but with as many as a third of Israeli voters undecided.
In the election itself, Likud won the second highest number of seats, Livni's party having outnumbered the Likud by one seat. A possible explanation for Likud's relatively poor showing is that some Likud supporters defected to Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu party.
Netanyahu, however, claimed victory on the basis that right-wing parties won the majority of the vote, and on 20 February 2009, Netanyahu was designated by Israeli President Shimon Peres to succeed Ehud Olmert as Prime Minister and began his negotiations to form a coalition government.
Despite right-wing parties winning a majority of 65 seats in the Knesset, Netanyahu preferred a broader centrist coalition and tuned his Kadima rivals, chaired, by Tzippi Livni, to join his government.
This time it was Livni's turn to decline to join, with a difference of opinion on how to pursue the peace process being the stumbling block.
Netanyahu did manage to entice a smaller rival, the Labour party, chaired by Ehud Barak,to join his government, giving him a certain amount of centrist tone.
Netanyahu presented his cabinet for a Knesset "Vote of Confidence" on 31 March 2009. The 32nd Government was approved that day by a majority of 69 lawmakers to 45 (with five abstaining) and the members were sworn in.
Second Prime Ministership: 2009-2013
In 2009, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton voiced support for the establishment of a Palestinian state a solution not endorsed by Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu, with whom she had earlier pledged the United States cooperation.
Upon the arrival of President Obama administration's special envoy, George Mitchell, Netanyahu said that any furtherance of negotiations with the Palestinians would be conditioned on the Palestinians recognizing Israel as a Jewish state.
US President Barack Obama told Netanyahu that a two-state solution was a priority and called for settlement growth to be frozen, while Netanyahu refused to support the creation of a Palestinian state and stated that Israel has the right to continue settlements.
During President Obama's Cairo speech on 4 June 2009 in which Obama addressed the Muslim world, Obama stated, among other things, that "The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements.
"Following Obama's Cairo speech Netanyahu immediately called a special government meeting. On 14 June, ten days after Obama's Cairo speech, Netanyahu gave a speech at Bar-Ilan University in which he endorsed a "Demilitarized Palestinian State", though said that Jerusalem must remain the unified capital of Israel.
Netanyahu stated that he would accept a Palestinian state if Jerusalem were to remain the united capital of Israel, the Palestinians would have no army, and the Palestinians would give up their demand for a right of return.
He also argued the right for a "natural growth" in the existing Jewish settlements in the West Bank while their permanent status is up to further negotiation. The senior Palestinian official, Saeb Erekat, said that the speech had "closed the door to permanent status negotiations" due to Netanyahu's declarations on Jerusalem, refugees, and settlements.
Three months after starting his term, Netanyahu remarked that his cabinet already had achieved several notable successes, such as the establishment of a working national unity government, and a broad consensus for a "Two-state solution."
A July 2009 survey by Ha'aretz found that most Israelis support the Netanyahu government, giving him a personal approval rating of about 49 percent. Netanyahu has lifted checkpoints in the West Bank in order to allow freedom of movement and a flow of imports; a step that resulted in an economic boost in the West Bank.
In 2009, Netanyahu welcomed the Arab Peace initiative (also known as the "Saudi Peace Initiative") and also lauded a call by Bahrain's Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa to normalize relations with Israel.
In August 2009, Abbas declared that he would be willing to meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu at the UN General Assembly, where Netanyahu had accepted president Obama's invitation for a "triple summit," although he said it would not necessarily lead to negotiations.
Netanyahu was reported to be in a pivotal moment over these understandings, that were reported to include a compromise over permission on continuing the already approved construction in the West Bank in exchange for freezing all settlement thereafter, as well as continuing building in East Jerusalem, and at the same time stopping the demolition of houses of Arab inhabitants there.
On 4 September 2009, it was reported that Netanyahu was to agree to settlers political demands to approve more settlement construction before a temporary settlement freeze agreement took place.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs expressed "regret" over the move; however, one U.S official said the move will not "derail the train".
On September 2009, Netanyahu left his office without reporting where he headed. The Prime Minister's military secretary, Maj. Gen. Meir Kalifi, later reported Netanyahu had visited a security facility in Israel.
Several different news agencies reported several different stories about where he was. On 9 September 2009, Yedioth Ahronot reported that the Israeli leader had made a secret flight to Moscow to try to persuade Russian officials not to sell S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems to Iran.
Headlines branded Netanyahu a "liar" and dubbed the affair a "fiasco". It was later reported that the PM's military secretary will be dismissed due to the affair.
The Sunday Times reported that the trip was made to share the names of Russian scientists that Israel believes are abetting the Iranian nuclear weapons program.
On 24 September 2009, in an address to the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Netanyahu said Iran poses a threat to the peace of the world and that it is incumbent on the world body to prevent the Islamic Republic from obtaining nuclear weapons.
Waving the blueprints for Auschwitz and invoking the memory of his own family members murdered by the Nazis, Netanyahu delivered a passionate and public riposte to Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's questioning of the Holocaust, asking: "Have you no shame?"
In response to pressure from Obama administration urging the sides to resume peace talks, on 25 November 2009 Netanyahu announced a partial 10-month settlement construction freeze plan.
The announced partial freeze had no significant effect on actual settlement construction, according to an analysis by the major Israeli daily Haaretz. U.S. special envoy George Mitchell said, "while the United States shares Arab concerns about the limitations of Israel's gesture, it is more than any Israeli government has ever done."
In his announcement, Netanyahu called the move "a painful step that will encourage the peace process" and urges the Palestinians to respond.
The Palestinians rejected the call, stating the gesture was "insignificant" in that thousands of recently approved settlement building in the West Bank would continue to be built and there would be no freeze of settlement activity in East Jerusalem.
In March 2010, Israel's government approved construction of an additional 1,600 apartments in a large Jewish housing development in northeastern Jerusalem called Ramat Shlomo despite the position of the current U.S. Government that acts such as this thwart the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
The Israeli government's subsequently issued a statement that all previous Israeli governments had continuously permitted construction in the neighborhood and that certain neighborhoods such as Ramat Shlomo and Gilo have always been included as part of Israel in any final agreement plan that has been proposed by either side to date.
Netanyahu regretted the timing of the announcement but asserted that "our policy on Jerusalem is the same policy followed by all Israeli governments for the 42 years, and it has not changed".
In September 2010, Netanyahu agreed to enter direct talks, mediated by the Obama administration, with the Palestinians for the first time in a long while.
The ultimate aim of these direct talks is to forge the framework of an official "final status settlement" to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by forming a two-state solution for the Jewish people and the Palestinian people.
On 27 September, the 10-month settlement freeze ended, and the Israeli government approved new construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. On retiring from office in July 2011, former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates had said that Netanyahu was ungrateful to the United States and endangering Israel.
Responding, the Likud party defended Netanyahu by saying that most Israelis supported the prime minister and that he had broad support in the United States.
In 2012, Netanyahu initially planned to call early elections but subsequently oversaw the creation of a controversial government of national unity that will see Israel through until the national elections of 2013.
In May 2012, Netanyahu officially recognized for the first time the right for Palestinians to have their own state, though as before he declared it would have to be demilitarized.
On October 25, 20120, Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman announced that their respective political parties, Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu, had merged and would run together on a single ballot in Israel's January 22, 2013, general elections.
Third Prime Ministership: 2013-present
Thirty-third government of Israel
The 2013 election returned Netanyahu's Likud Yisrael Beiteinu coalition with 11 fewer seats than the combined Likud and Yisrael Beitanu parties had to go into vote.
Nevertheless, as leader of what remained the largest faction in the Knesset, Israeli president Shimon Peres charged Netanyahu with the task of forming the Thirty-third government of Israel.
The new coalition included the Yesh Atid, the Jewish Home and Hatnuah parties and excludes the ultra-Orthodox parties at the insistence of Yesh Atid and the Jewish Home.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Speech at the United Nations General Assembly on September 29, 2014.
Thank you, Mr. President, Distinguished delegates, I come here from Jerusalem to speak on behalf of my people, the people of Israel.
I’ve come here to speak about the dangers we face and about the opportunities we see. I’ve come here to expose the brazen lies spoken from this very podium against my country and against the brave soldiers who defend it.
Ladies and Gentlemen, The people of Israel pray for peace.
But our hopes and the world’s hope for peace are in danger. Because everywhere we look, militant Islam is on the march.
It’s not militants. It’s not Islam. It’s militant Islam. Typically, its first victims are other Muslims, but it spares no one. Christians, Jews, Yazidis, Kurds – no creed, no faith, no ethnic group is beyond its sights.
And it’s rapidly spreading in every part of the world. You know the famous American saying: “ All politics is local”? For the militant Islamists, “All politics is global.” Because their ultimate goal is to dominate the world.
Now, that threat might seem exaggerated to some, since it starts out small, like a cancer that attacks a particular part of the body. But left unchecked, cancer grows, metastasizing over wider and wider areas.
To protect the peace and security of the world, we must remove this cancer before it’s too late. Last week, many of the countries represented here rightly applauded President Obama for leading the effort to confront ISIS.
And yet weeks before, some of these same countries, the same countries that now support confronting ISIS, opposed Israel for confronting Hamas. They evidently don’t understand that ISIS and Hamas are branches of the same poisonous tree.
ISIS and Hamas share a fanatical creed, which they both seek to impose well beyond the territory under their control.
Listen to ISIS’s self-declared caliph, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi. This is what he said two months ago: A day will soon come when the Muslim will walk everywhere as a master…
Muslims will cause the world to hear and understand the meaning of terrorism… and destroy the idol of democracy. Now listen to Khaled Meshaal, The leader of Hamas.
He proclaims a similar vision of the future: We say this to the West… By Allah, you will be defeated. Tomorrow our nation will sit on the throne of the world.
AS Hamas’s charter makes clear, Hamas’s immediate goal is to destroy Israel. But Hamas has a broader objective. They also want a caliphate. Hamas shares the global ambitions of its fellow militant Islamists.
That’s why its supporters wildly cheered in the streets of Gaza as thousands of Americans were murdered on 9/11. And that’s why its leaders condemned the United States for killing Osama Bin Laden, whom they praised as a holy warrior.
So when it comes to their ultimate goals, Hamas is ISIS and ISIS is Hamas.
And what they share in common, all militant Islamists share in common: Boko Haram in Nigeria; Ash-Shabab in Somalia; Hezbollah in Lebanon; An-Nusrah in Syria; The Mahdi Army in Iraq; And the Al-Qaeda branches in Yemen, Libya, the Philippines, India and elsewhere.
Some are radical Sunnis, some are radical Shi’ites. Some want to restore a pre-medieval caliphate from the 7th century.
Others want to trigger the apocalyptic return of an imam from the 9the century. They operate in different lands, they target different victims and they even kill each other in their quest for supremacy.
But they all share a fanatic ideology. They all seek to create ever expanding enclaves of militant Islam where there is no freedom and no tolerance – Where women are treated as chattel, Christians are decimated, and minorities are subjugated, sometimes given the stark choice: convert or die. For them, anyone can be an infidel, including fellow Muslims.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Militant Islam’s ambition to dominate the world seem mad. But so too did the global ambition of another fanatic ideology that swept to power eight decades ago.
The Nazis believed in a master race. The militant Islamists believe in a master faith. They just disagree about who among them will be the master… of the master faith.
That’s what they truly disagree about. Therefore, the question before us is whether militant Islam will have the power to realize its unbridled ambitions.
There is one place where that could soon happen: The Islamic State of Iran. For 35 years, Iran has relentlessly pursued the global mission which was set forth by its founding ruler, Ayatollah Khomeini, in these words: We will export our revolution to the entire world.
Until the cry “There is no God but Allah” will echo throughout the world over… And ever since, the regime’s brutal enforcers, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, have done exactly that.
Listen to its current commander, General Muhammad Ali Ja’afari. And he clearly stated this goal. He said: Our Imam did not limit the Islamic Revolution to this country…
Our duty is to prepare the way for an Islamic world government... Iran’s President Rouhani stood here last week, and shed crocodile tears over what he called “the globalization of terrorism,” Maybe he should spare us those phony tears and have a word instead with the commanders of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.
He could ask them to call off Iran’s global terror campaign, which has included attacks in tow dozen countries on five continents since 2011 alone. To say that Iran doesn’t practice terrorism is like saying Derek Jeter never played shortstop for the New York Yankees.
This bemoaning of the Iranian president of the spread of terrorism has got to be one of history’s displays of doubletalk.
Now, some still argue that Iran’s global terror campaign, its subversion of countries throughout the Middle East and well beyond the Middle East, some argue that this is the work of the extremists.
They say things are changing. They point to last year’s elections in Iran. They claim that Iran’s smooth-talking President and Foreign Minister, they’ve changed not only the tone of Iran’s foreign policy but also its substance.
They believe Rouhani and Zarif genuinely reconcile with the West, that they’ve abandoned the global mission of the Islamic Revolution.
Really? So let’s look at what Foreign Minister Zarif wrote his book just a few years ago: we have a fundamental problem with the West, and especially with America.
This is because we are heirs to a global mission, which is tied to our raison d’etre… A global mission which is tied to our very reason for being.
And then Zarif question, I think an interesting one. He says; How come Malaysia [he’s referring to an overwhelmingly Muslim country] – how come Malaysia doesn’t have similar problems? And he answers: Because Malaysia is not trying to change the international order.
That’s your moderate. So don’t be fooled by Iran’s manipulative charm offensive. It’s designed for one purpose, and for one purpose only: to lift the sanctions and remove the obstacles to Iran’s path to the bomb.
The Islamic Republic is now trying to bamboozle its way to an agreement that will remove the sanctions it still faces, and leave it with the capacity of thousands of centrifuges to enrich uranium.
This would effectively cement Iran’s place as a threshold military nuclear power: In the future, at a time of its choosing. Iran, the world’s most dangerous state in the world’s most dangerous region, would obtain the world’s most dangerous weapons.
Allowing that to happen would pose the gravest threat to us all. It’s one thing to confront militant Islamists on pick-up trucks, armed with Kalashnikov rifles.
It’s another thing to confront militant Islamists armed with weapons of mass destruction. I remember that last year, everyone here was rightly concerned about the chemical weapons in Syria, including the possibility that they would fall into the hands of terrorists.
That didn’t happen. And President Obama deserves great credit for leading the diplomatic effort to dismantle virtually all of Syria’s chemical weapons capability.
Imagine how much more dangerous the Islamic State, ISIS, would be if it possessed chemical weapons.
Now imagine how much more dangerous the Islamic state of Iran would be if it possessed nuclear weapons. Ladies and Gentlemen, would you let ISIS enrich uranium? Would you let ISIS build a heavy water reactor?
Would you let ISIS develop intercontinental ballistic missiles? Of course, you wouldn’t. Then you mustn’t let the Islamic State of Iran do those things either.
Because here’s what will happen: Once Iran produces atomic bombs, all the charm and all the smiles will suddenly disappear. They’ll just vanish. It’s then that the ayatollahs will show their true face and unleash their aggressive fanaticism on the entire world.
There is only one responsible course of action to address this threat: Iran’s nuclear military capabilities must be fully dismantled. Make no mistake – ISIS must be defeated. But to defeat ISIS and leave Iran as a threshold nuclear power is to win the battle and lose the war.
To defeat ISIS and leave Iran as a threshold nuclear power is to win the battle and lose the war:
Ladies and Gentlemen, The fight against militant Islam are indivisible. When militant Islam succeeds anywhere, it’s emboldened everywhere. When it suffers a blow in one place, it’s set back in every place.
That’s why Israel’s fight against Hamas is not just our fight. It’s your fight. Israel is fighting a fanaticism today that your countries may be forced to fight tomorrow.
For 50 days this past summer, Hamas fired thousands of rockets at Israel, many of them supplied by Iran. I want you to think about what your countries would do if thousands of rockets were fired at your cities.
Imagine millions of your citizens having seconds at most to scramble to bomb shelters, day after day. You wouldn’t let terrorists fire rockets at your cities with impunity.
Nor would you let terrorists dig dozen of terror tunnels under your borders to infiltrate your towns in order to murder and kidnap your citizens. Israel justly defended itself against both rocket attacks and terror tunnels. Yet Israel also faced another challenge. We faced a propaganda war.
Because, in an attempt to win the world’s sympathy, Hamas cynically used Palestinian civilians as human shields. It used schools, not just schools – UN Schools, private homes, mosques even hospital to store and fire rockets at Israel.
As Israel surgically struck at the rocket launchers and ta the tunnels, Palestinian civilians were tragically but unintentionally killed. There are heartrending images that resulted, and fueled libelous charges that Israel was deliberately targeting civilians.
We are not. We deeply regret every single civilian casualty. And the truth is this: Israel was doing everything to minimize Palestinian civilian casualties. Hamas was doing everything to maximize Israeli civilian casualties and Palestinian civilian casualties.
Israel dropped flyer, made phone calls, sent text messages, broadcast warnings in Arabic on Palestinian television, always to enable Palestinian civilians to evacuate targeted areas.
No other country and no other army in history has gone to greater lengths to avoid casualties among the civilian population of their enemies.
This concern for Palestinian life was all the more remarkable, given that Israeli civilians were being bombarded by rockets day after day, night after night.
As their families were being rocketed by Hamas, Israel’s citizen army – the brave soldiers of the IDF, our young boys and girls – they upheld the highest moral values of any army the world. Israel’s soldiers deserve not condemnation, but admiration. Admiration from decent people everywhere.
Now here’s what Hamas did: Hamas embedded its missile batteries in residential areas and told Palestinians to ignore Israel’s warnings to leave. And just in case people didn’t get the message, they executed Palestinian civilians in Gaza who dared to protest.
No less reprehensible, Hamas deliberately placed its rockets where Palestinian children live and play. Let me show you a photograph. It was taken by France 24 crew during the recent conflict.
It shows two Hamas rocket launchers, which were used to attack us. You see three children playing next to them. Hamas deliberately put its rockets in hundreds of residential areas like this. Hundreds of them.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is a war crime. And I say to President Abbas, these are the war crimes committed by your Hamas partners in the national unity government which you head and you are responsible for.
And these are the real war crimes you should have investigated, or spoken out against from this podium last week.
Ladies and Gentlemen, As Israeli children huddled in bomb shelters and Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system knocked Hamas rockets out of the sky, the profound moral difference between Israel and Hamas couldn’t have been clearer: Israel was using its missiles to protect its children. Hamas was using its children to protect its missiles.
By investigating Israel rather than Hamas for war crimes, the UN Human Rights Council has betrayed its noble mission to protect the innocent.
In fact, what it’s doing is to turn the laws of war upside-down. Israel, which took unprecedented steps to minimize civilian casualties, Israel is condemned.
Hamas, which both targeted and hid behind civilians – that a double war crime – Hamas is given a pass.
The Human Rights Council is thus sending a clear message to terrorists everywhere: Use civilians as human shields. Use them again and again and again. You know why? Because sadly, it works.
By granting international legitimacy to the use of human shields, the UN’s Human Rights Council has thus become a Terrorist Rights Council, and it will have repercussions. It probably already has, about the use of civilians as human shields.
It’s not just our interest. It’s just our values that are under attack. It’s your interest and your values.
Ladies and Gentlemen, We live in a world steeped in tyranny and terror, where gays are hanged from cranes in Tehran, political prisoners are executed in Gaza, young girls are abducted en masse in Nigeria and hundreds of thousands are butchered in Syria, Libya, and Iraq.
Yet nearly half, of the UN Human Rights Council’s resolutions focusing on a single country have been directed against Israel, the one true democracy in the Middle East – Israel.
Where Issues are openly debated in a boisterous parliament, where human rights are protected by independent courts and where women, gays, and minorities live in a genuinely free society.
The Human Rights… (That’s an oxymoron, the UN Human Rights Council, but I’ll use it just the same), the Council’s biased treatment of Israel is only one manifestation of the return of the oldest prejudices. We hear mobs today in Europe call for the gassing of Jews.
We hear some national leaders compare Israel to the Nazis. This is not a function of Israel’s policies. It’s a function of diseased minds. And that disease has a name. It’s called anti-Semitism.
It is now spreading in polite society, where it masquerades as legitimate criticism of Israel. For centuries the Jewish people have been demonized with blood libels and charges of deicide.
Today, the Jewish state is demonized with the apartheid libel and charges of genocide. Genocide? In what moral universe does genocide include warning the enemy’s civilian population to get out of harm’s way?
Or ensuring that they receive tons of humanitarian aid each day, even as thousands of rockets are being fired at us? Or setting up a field hospital to aid for their wounded?
Well, I supposed it’s the same moral universe where a man who wrote a dissertation of lies about the Holocaust, and who insists on a Palestine free of Jews, Judenrein, can stand at this podium and shamelessly accuse Israel of genocide and ethnic cleansing.
In the past, outrageous lies against the Jews were the precursors to the wholesale slaughter of our people. But no more.
Today we, the Jewish people, have the power to defend ourselves. We will defend ourselves against our enemies on the battlefield. We will expose their lies against us in the court of public opinion. Israel will continue to stand proud and unbowed.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Despite the enormous challenges facing Israel, I believe we have a historic opportunity.
After decades of seeing Israel as their enemy, leading states in the Arab world increasingly recognize that together we and they face many of the same dangers: principally this means a nuclear-armed Iran and militant Islamist movements gaining ground in the Sunni world.
Our challenge is to transform these common interests to create a productive partnership. One that would build a more secure, peaceful and prosperous Middle East.
Together we can strengthen regional security. We can advance projects in water, agriculture, in transportation, in health, in energy, in so many fields.
I believe the partnership between us can also help facilitate peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
Many have long assumed that an Israeli- Palestinian peace can help facilitate a broader rapprochement between Israel and the Arab World. But these days I think it may work the other way around.
Namely that a broader rapprochement between Israel and the Arab world may help facilitate an Israeli-Palestinian peace.
And therefore, to achieve that peace, we must look not only to Jerusalem and Ramallah but also to Cairo, to Amman, Abu Dhabi, Riyadh and elsewhere.
I believe peace can be realized with the active involvement of Arab countries, those that are willing to provide political, material and other indispensable support.
I’m ready to make a historic compromise, not because Israel is occupying a foreign land. The people of Israel are not occupiers in the Land of Israel. History, archeology and common sense all make clear that we have had a singular attachment to this land over 3,000 years.
I want peace because I want to create a better future for my people. But it must be a genuine peace, one that is anchored in mutual recognition and enduring security arrangements, rock-solid security arrangements on the ground.
Because you see, Israel’s withdrawals from Lebanon and Gaza created two militant Islamic enclaves on our border from which tens of thousands of rockets have been fired at Israel.
These sobering experiences heighten Israel’s security concerns regarding potential concessions in the future. Those security concerns are even greater today. Just look around you.
The Middle East is in chaos. States are disintegrating. Militant Islamists are filling the void.
Israel cannot have territories from which it withdraws taken over by Islamic militants yet again, as happened in Gaza and Lebanon. That would place the likes of ISIS within mortar range – a few miles – of 80% of our population.
Think about that. The distance between the 1967 lines and the suburbs of Tel Aviv is like the distance between the UN building here and Times Square.
Israel’s a tiny country. That’s why in any peace agreement which will obviously necessitate a territorial compromise, I will always insist that Israel be able to defend itself by itself against any threat.
Yet despite all that has happened, some still don’t take Israel’s security concerns seriously. But I do, and I always will. Because, as Prime Minister of Israel, I am entrusted with the awesome responsibility of ensuring the future of the Jewish people and the future of the Jewish state.
And no matter what pressure is brought to bear, I will never waver in fulfilling that responsibility.
I believe that with a fresh approach from our neighbors, we can advance peace despite the difficulties we face.
In Israel, we have a record of making the impossible possible. We’ve made desolate land flourish. And with very few natural resources, we have used the fertile minds of our people to turn Israel into a global center of technology and innovation.
Peace, of course, would enable Israel to realize its full potential and to bring a promising future not only for our people, not only for the Palestinian people but for many others in our region.
But the old template for peace must be updated. It must take into account new realities and new roles and responsibilities for our Arab neighbors. Ladies and Gentlemen, There is the new Middle East.
It presents new dangers, but also new opportunities. Israel is prepared to work with Arab partners and the international community to confront those dangers and to seize those opportunities.
Together we must recognize the global threat of militant Islam, the primacy of dismantling Iran’s nuclear weapons capability and the indispensable role of Arab states in advancing peace with the Palestinians.
All this may fly in the face of conventional wisdom, but it’s the truth. And the truth must always be spoken, especially here, in the United Nations.
Isaiah, our great prophet of peace, taught us nearly 3,000 years ago in Jerusalem to speak the truth.
For the sake of Zion, I will not be silent.
For the sake of Jerusalem, I will not be still.
Until her justice shines bright, And her salvation glows like a flaming torch.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Let’s light a torch of truth and justice to safeguard our common future.
More to Come: