Thursday 12 December 2019

Nuclear Iran greater threat than terrorists - Netanyahu

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Carol Winters

A nuclear-armed Iran would pose a far greater threat to the world than Isil Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said yesterday.

"Make no mistake, Isil must be defeated," Mr Netanyahu told the UN General Assembly. "But to defeat Isil and leave Iran as a threshold nuclear power is to win the battle and lose the war."

"Iran's nuclear military capabilities must be fully dismantled," he said, adding that the point of Tehran's recent "charm offensive" for the West was get international sanctions lifted "and remove the obstacles to Iran's path to the bomb."

Earlier the country's foreign minister said it's clear that Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has no intention of making peace with Israel, calling his speech to world leaders last week "a message of hatred and incitement."

Avigdor Lieberman also questioned Abbas' legitimacy to speak on behalf of the Palestinian people, saying he doesn't control the Gaza Strip, where Hamas remains in charge of security and elections have been postponed for more than four years.

Before leaving for the UN yesterday Mr Netanyahu said that he will refute "all of the lies directed at us" about Israel's recently concluded war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Mr Abbas accused Israel in his speech on Friday of carrying out "war crimes" and conducting a "war of genocide" in Gaza, but stopped short of saying he would pursue war crimes charges against Israel. He said he would ask the U.N. Security Council to dictate the ground rules for any talks with Israel, including setting a deadline for an Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian lands.

With memories of the Nazi Holocaust still fresh in Israel, use of the word "genocide" is regarded as particularly provocative both to Netanyahu and Israelis in general. An angry Netanyahu promised an appropriate response in his U.N. speech.

Mohammed Ishtayeh, an aide to Mr Abbas, responded to Mr Lieberman's comments, saying: "If Lieberman and his government seek peace, why they are building settlements on our land? They left no land without settlements, no land for the Palestinians to live in."

Mr Ishtayeh added: "Lieberman was trying to cover the war crimes his government committed in Gaza."

Irish Independent

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