(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
As Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was en route to New York to address the UN General Assembly, Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Avigdor Liberman warned that Iran's recent "appeasement attack" was merely a trick to buy time for its continued development of nuclear weapons.
Liberman's comments came after US President Barack Obama spoke with his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani on Friday, signaling a thaw in relations between the countries, which Israel fears will lead to decreased international pressure on Iran over its disputed nuclear program.
Netanyahu, who is set to meet with Obama on Monday prior to his General Assembly address on Tuesday, directed his ministers not to comment on the Obama-Rouhani phone call
or US-Iranian relations, in an apparent effort not to embarrass him before his scheduled meeting with the US president.
As he boarded his plane to the US with his wife Sara overnight Saturday, Netanyahu said that he would "represent the citizens of Israel, our national interests, our rights as a people, our perseverance to defend ourselves and our hope for peace."
When asked about Rouhani's efforts to speed diplomacy in an efforts to secure a deal that would lessen international sanctions on Iran, Netanyahu said, "I will tell the truth. In the face of the lip service, the smile attack, we need to state facts, to tell the truth. I think that telling the truth today, is essential to the peace and security of the world, and of course, essential to the security of our state."
Liberman took to his Facebook page Sunday morning warning that Rouhani's efforts to put forth a moderate face were part of a "pattern of deception" that the Iranians have employed throughout the years.
"With different tactics of playing for time and providing false information to the international community time after time, they have continued to advance toward the goal that they have set for themselves: obtaining a nuclear weapon meant to threaten the peace of the world."
The Yisrael Beytenu leader said Rouhani's overtures were "just another deceptive trick," such as those employed by North Korea to develop a nuclear weapon in the face of international scrutiny.
Liberman invoked Israel's bombing of Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor in 1981, stating that in that case as well, Israel was the only voice warning against the Iraqi nuclear threat and acting.
He said that he trusted Netanyahu to protect Israel's interests against the Iranian threat at the General Assembly and in Washington "even if the public discourse and atmosphere are not easy or comfortable for telling necessary truths."
President Shimon Peres told Army Radio on Sunday morning, that while it was necessary to speak to Washington, and voice Israel's concerns, he was unhappy with "the disrespectful tone" being directed at the US from Israel.