Speaking Monday at the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency meeting in Jerusalem, Netanyahu said that the first challenge for his government is dealing with the threat from Iran.
"The historic desire to eradicate the Jewish people has come back with full force," Netanyahu said, sounding a warning about how he sees the Iranian threat to the Jewish people.
"Israel is facing a set of daunting challenges, first of which is Iran. The Jewish fate has changed, but our enemies have not. Israel is a uniquely moral country, and attempts to delegitimize it are one of the great moral failures of our time," Netanyahu said.
"Iran does not conceal its desire to destroy the Jewish state, and also to threaten the rest of the world. Iran has spearheaded the effort to eradicate the Jewish state; that is why it is developing nuclear weapons. Iran is seeking the power of mass death, and it is enough to see what they do now to know what they will do then," the prime minister said.
Referring to the attack on Israeli tourists on July 18 last year in Burgas, Bulgaria, Netanyahu said that Iran uses Hezbollah to carry out their attacks. Netanyahu congratulated Bulgaria for "calling it as it is."
The EU has still dithered on adding Hezbollah onto its list of terrorist organizations, and despite evidence from the Burgas attack, is unlikely to do so.
"Other governments know [Iran and Hezbollah's terror activities] but they do not call it like it is," Netanyahu said.
Netanyahu said that Iran threatens not only the security of Israel, but also the security of the rest of the Middle East, as well as the flow of oil.
"An Iranian nuclear weapon would transform the Mideast into a nuclear tinderbox, changing the world as we know it. The sanctions themselves, even the toughest sanctions, will not stop them. Case in point: North Korea. Sanctions need to be coupled with a robust, credible military threat. Only then will we have a chance to stop it. I believe that stopping Iran is the number one task of anyone seeking peace and security in the world," Netanyahu said.
Iran's leading nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh-Mahabadi, is believed to have traveled to North Korea to observe its third nuclear test last week, according to Western intelligence sources cited in the U.K.'s Sunday Times.
Netanyahu said he looks forward to welcoming U.S. President Barack Obama to Israel, and that the two have agreed that Iran will be "topic number one."
Turning to Syria, Netanyahu said Israel would do whatever was necessary to protect itself from what he said was "liable to be a strategic disaster."
"Syria has some of the most sophisticated weapons ever built, which can threaten not only Israel, but also the U.S. and the world. There is a tide in this region, and it is not moving toward modernity, but rather backward. We can't sit and wait for things to happen. We must protect and prepare ourselves in the face of any threat," Netanyahu said.
Turning to the peace process with the Palestinians, Netanyahu said that territories vacated in the past have become threats: "We need a peace process that gives us both peace and security. Peace agreements themselves do not ensure peace. In addition to a piece of paper, we need security on the ground. The Palestinian state must be thoroughly demilitarized. We have to ensure that what happened in Gaza and Lebanon does not repeat itself. We must have mutual recognition. It is high time that the Palestinians recognize the Jewish state here. This is the state of the Jews. The ability to have any Jew come here is fundamental to our existence."
Both Israel and the Palestinians will have to make concessions, Netanyahu said.
"I'm not placing these conditions before the entrance gate. I place no conditions ahead of negotiations. I don't think we should spend another four years negotiating about negotiations. We need to just get on with it. These are the topics that I will discuss with President Obama," Netanyahu added.