Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended criticism of the policies of US President Barack Obama’s administration in a video address to Sunday’s Jerusalem Post Conference in New York.
Netanyahu’s statement was aired after US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew was heckled and booed, but taped earlier.
Nevertheless, it was clear in advance of the event that such reactions from the crowd would be expected.
“Israel has no better friend in the world than the United States, and the United States has no better friend than Israel,” Netanyahu said. “I want to thank President Obama, the Congress and the American people for all they have done for Israel’s security. But even the closest of friends can respectfully disagree about issues of international security.
And of these, none is more important to Israel, to the stability of the Middle East and to the peace of the world, than the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear program.”
Preventing Iran from being able to build nuclear weapons is the preeminent challenge of our generation, Netanyahu said. It must be understood that Iran does not only threaten the destruction of Israel, it is conquering huge swaths of the Middle East as it seeks to export its Islamic Revolution across the globe.
“Today, Iran’s campaign of aggression engulfs the entire Middle East: Yemen, Iraq, Lebanon, Gaza, Syria, Libya, elsewhere,” he said. “Today, Iran is sponsoring worldwide terrorism in the Middle East, in Asia, in Africa, in Europe, in North and South America. Today, Iran is conducting an unprecedented conventional arms buildup: drones, rockets, satellites, submarines, precision-guided missiles and other lethal weapons.
And in recent months Iran has supplied increasingly sophisticated weapons to its terrorist proxies: to Hezbollah, to Hamas, to Islamic Jihad, the Houthis in Yemen and others.
Today, Iran conducts cyber attacks against Israel, its Arab neighbors and the West. Iran is doing all this today without nuclear weapons. Think of what Iran would do tomorrow with nuclear weapons.”
Netanyahu warned that the Lausanne framework paves Tehran’s way to produce the enriched uranium for an entire arsenal of nuclear weapons.
“That’s the inevitable outcome if Iran keeps the deal,” the prime minister said. “If they decide to break the deal, they can get to the bomb much sooner. The deal also gives Iran tens of billions of dollars immediately, and hundreds of billions of dollars in the coming years. That’s big money – big money to support Iran’s global terrorism, big money to fund Iran’s aggression in the region, big money for Iran’s massive conventional arms build-up. It would be a historic mistake to rush now to conclude this bad deal.”
Netanyahu expressed hope that it was not too late to achieve a better deal, one that could block the Islamic Republic’s path to the bomb and would tie the lifting of restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program to changes in Iranian behavior.