In an impassioned speech interspersed with bouts of dramatic silence, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday condemned the Iran nuclear deal as empowering Tehran to spread unrest in the Mideast while leaving the country capable of making an atomic bomb.
The Israeli leader then paused for about 45 seconds to further illustrate his point, during which he stared around the silent room.
Netanyahu used most of his 40-minute speech to again warn the world of what he called the dangers of the nuclear deal reached in July between Iran and six world powers, including the United States.
The Iran deal, he said, “doesn’t make peace more likely” but rather gives Iran billions of dollars, in the form of sanctions relief, to fund more wars.
Speaking a day after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas announced that the PA would no longer abide by agreements it signed with Israel, Prime Minister Netanyahu reaffirmed his readiness to negotiate a permanent, sustainable peace.
“Israel will not allow Iran to break in, to sneak in, or to walk into the nuclear weapons club”, he pledged.
Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas told the Assembly on Wednesday that his people could not be bound by past agreements in the face of Israel’s refusal to release prisoners and stop settlement activity.
“Israel will not permit any force on earth to threaten its future”, Netanyahu added in his speech.
And yet “the response from this body”, Netanyahu said “has been absolutely nothing”.
“Ten miles from [the Islamic State], a few hundred yards from Iran’s murderous proxies, Israel stands on the breach, proudly and courageously defending freedom and progress”, he said.
The Israeli prime minister has a history of taking headline-grabbing gimmicks to the United Nations.
“How can Israel make peace with a Palestinian partner who refuses even to sit at the negotiating table?” he asked.
“As long as Israel is not committed … we for our part are not committed and Israel must bear full responsibility”, he argued, making it clear however that Palestine will not resort to violence.
The peace talks between Israel and Palestine stopped in March past year after nine months of effort sponsored by the US.
Meeting Secretary of State John Kerry in New York on Friday, Netanyahu said he appreciated US condemnation of Thursday’s attack and noted that a few Palestinians had praised the killing, which left four young children orphaned.