Netanyahu: If forced to, Israel will stand alone against Iran
Diplomats laud Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's address to the U.N. General Assembly, saying it brought honor to Israel • Professor Alan Dershowitz calls it one of the best speeches ever heard at the U.N.
Shlomo Cesana, Mati Tuchfeld and Gideon Allon
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: If forced to, Israel will stand alone against Iran
Photo credit: AP
Israel's U.N. delegation applauds Netanyahu
Photo credit: Reuters
Sara Netanyahu, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's wife, applauds during her husband's U.N. speech
Photo credit: Shahar Ezran
Dozens of U.N. ambassadors and representatives from many countries approached Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday following his address before the General Assembly, to offer him their congratulations on a speech they said honored the State of Israel.
"This is the best combination of solid facts and reason ever spoken in the U.N.," prominent law professor Alan Dershowitz told Israel Hayom.
"This is one of the most brilliant speeches and best performances I have ever seen. As a law professor, I would give his speech an A+. He is sending Iran an important message that Israel will never let it develop nuclear weapons and as a last resort will even take military action. He also sent an important message to the Europeans, that they can't allow Iran to do what North Korea did. And it also sends an important message to the Americans that they are not acting alone and that Israel is an independent country that won't outsource its use of force or defense to American citizens.
"The speech also sent a message to The New York Times," Dershowitz said. "You were wrong about North Korea and you were wrong about Iran, and the world has learned to ignore your opinion pages."
Members of the Israeli delegation who accompanied Netanyahu to the U.N. also responded to the speech.
"The gimmick of this entire speech was is that you don't need any gimmicks when you have facts. Any solution will have to stand the test of Netanyahu's four conditions," Homefront Defense Minister Gilad Erdan said.
"This was a speech that told the truth, the facts," Deputy Foreign Minister Zeev Elkin said. "There is symbolism in the fact that the last sentence spoken at the U.N. General Assembly, in the face of all the lies and phony smiles, was that 'the people of Israel will never be uprooted again.' The president of the United States and the West speak about the fact that they intend to wait for actions. Let us all hope this happens."
Facts versus smiles
Netanyahu told his advisors on Tuesday that the purpose of the speech was to counter smiles with facts and to illustrate the contradictions behind Hasan Rouhani's charm offensive at the U.N.
"I feel we can puncture the Iranian balloon," Netanyahu said on Tuesday.
Netanyahu said he was certain that it would be his message, and not Rouhani's, that would resonate with the world's governments and global public opinion. After his address, many representatives from different nations came to shake Netanyahu's hand, expressing their appreciation for his words.
Netanyahu found a receptive audience during his meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama on Monday, but Obama is still undecided about his plan of action. The Americans have the upper hand, but the question of what they will do with it still remains. Netanyahu believes that now is the time to decide on a joint U.S.-Israeli policy to stop the Iranian nuclear program. Israel and the U.S. have a common goal and need to make sure that actions and not words are what decide the outcome.
Making life difficult for the Iranians
Netanyahu's activities vis-à-vis Obama, the U.N. and the U.S. media in the coming days are meant to deflate Rouhani's momentum, and he intends to combine reason with facts in a way that resonates.
The prime minister's advisors this week recalled Netanyahu's first meeting with Obama, which preceded the sanctions on Iran. It took place in 2007 in the janitor's office at Reagan National Airport. Netanyahu was a candidate for prime minister and opposition MK and Obama was serving on the Illinois Senate. At the time, Obama asked, "What is most important to you?"
"Sanctions combined with a credible threat will stop Iran from becoming a nuclear state," Netanyahu responded. Two weeks later, Obama proposed a Senate bill to step up the sanctions imposed on Iran.
Netanyahu believes that his recent actions has made life harder for the Iranians. His pressure is helping the Americans decide, the prime minister's associates hedged.
Netanyahu said that Rouhani wants to turn Iran into a threshold country -- a country that would be able to produce a nuclear bomb within three weeks if deciding to do so. Thus, the prime minister believes there is no change in Iran's approach and that Rouhani is simply Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's lackey. A senior diplomatic source told Israel Hayom on Tuesday that at present, there are three significant players in the arena: Israel, Iran and the United States.
In the past the Europeans and Americans decided to impose economic sanctions on Iran as a result of Israel's threat that if no such sanctions were imposed, it may take military action.
The Europeans' real concern is that Israel will act alone. Netanyahu once again raised the specter of a military threat, to advance a diplomatic solution, one that will allow the negotiations with Iran to progress in the right way, without lifting the sanctions. At present, the goal of Netanyahu's military threat is to keep the sanctions in effect.
Among Israeli politicians, reactions to the speech were mixed.
"Standing there, he honorably represented the entire nation," said MK Eli Yishai (Shas). "I hope that his cry rouses those who are sleeping."
"This may be Netanyahu's most important speech of the past several decades," said Deputy Minister Ofir Akunis.
Opposition Chairwoman Shelly Yachimovich (Labor) said that she agreed with Netanyahu's facts but not with his presentation. "The international community must not form the impression or come to believe that the Iranian problem is solely Israel's problem."
"Netanyahu is going back to the old rhetoric of threats and fear-mongering," Meretz Chairwoman Zehava Gal-On said.