Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu..
(photo credit: KOBI GIDEON/GPO)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu heads to the United States on Sunday to battle Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and Palestinian unilateralism, when he addresses the UN General Assembly in New York and meets with US President Barack Obama in Washington.
“After the Iranian president’s deceptive speech and [PA President Mahmoud Abbas] Abu Mazen’s incitement, I will tell the truth about Israel’s citizens to the entire world,” Netanyahu said on Saturday night. “In my UN General Assembly speech and in all of my meetings I will represent the citizens of Israel and will – on their behalf – refute the slander and lies directed at our country.”
Netanyahu is to address the General Assembly on Monday and meet with Obama on Wednesday.
Sources in the Prime Minister’s Office said Abbas’s speech was not that of a man who seeks peace.
“It’s a speech that is full of incitement and lies,” the sources said.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, who also is heading to the UN General Assembly, accused Abbas of engaging in political terrorism against the State of Israel and warned that, as long as Abbas is president, it would not be possible to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“Abbas does not want and can not be a partner to a logical diplomatic settlement,” Liberman said.
Meanwhile, US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, “President Abbas’s speech today included offensive characterizations that were deeply disappointing and which we reject,” adding that “such provocative statements are counterproductive and undermine efforts to create a positive atmosphere and restore trust between the parties.”
Netanyahu plans to bring up both Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and the frozen peace process with the Palestinians when he meets with Obama in Washington.
On Wednesday, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani promised the UN that Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful.
“Nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction have no place in Iran’s security and defense doctrine, and contradict our fundamental religious and ethical convictions,” Rouhani told world leaders who assembled in New York for the opening of the 69th General Assembly.
On Friday, Abbas accused Israel of perpetrating a “new war of genocide” against the Palestinian people. He also spoke of his efforts together with the Arab Group at the UN to bring a resolution to the Security Council that would impose a time-line on the creation of a two-state solution at the pre-1967 lines.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters in Washington on Friday that Obama “looks forward to discussing with the prime minister Israel’s relations with Palestinians, including the situation in Gaza, developments related to Iran, and the international effort to combat ISIL [Islamic State].
“Prime Minister Netanyahu’s visit is a demonstration of the deep and enduring bonds between the United States and Israel and our close consultations on a range of regional issues. The vice president will participate in those meetings, as well,” Earnest said.
Netanyahu and Obama will meet in a climate that offers little hope for renewed talks.
The US-led negotiations fell apart in April and neither Israel or the US has put forward an alternative plan to jump start the frozen peace process.
The bulk of Netanyahu’s trip, however, will be spent in New York, where he will meet on Tuesday with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. He will also speak with world leaders on the sidelines of the General Assembly, including on Sunday, when he is scheduled to meet with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
It will be the first meeting in more than a decade between the prime ministers of Israel and India.
Netanyahu also will speak with American Jewish leaders and hold media interviews. He flies back to Israel on Thursday in time for Yom Kippur.