Tags: netanyahu | iran | bigger | threat | than | isis

Netanyahu to Push Iran as Bigger Threat Than Islamic State at UN

Sunday, 28 September 2014 05:32 PM EDT

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will urge world leaders to keep up the pressure on Iran over its nuclear program even as they confront the threat of Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.

Netanyahu, addressing the United Nations General Assembly today, will expand on his Sept. 22 remarks mocking “esteemed commentators in the West” who say “the major powers need to go easy on Iran’s nuclear program so that Iran will fight” Islamic State, according to aides familiar with his speech. They asked not to be identified because it hasn’t been delivered.

Two years ago, Netanyahu pulled out a cartoon bomb at the same forum to argue time was running out to stop Iran from building a nuclear bomb. With efforts to crush Islamic State overshadowing the General Assembly session, his message may be tougher to sell this time.

“Netanyahu has a big problem, because the main issue in this UN General Assembly is the Islamic State, and he’s coming with Iran, which people will say is not as important,” said Eytan Gilboa, professor of political science at Bar-Ilan University outside Tel Aviv. “As in previous General Assemblies, Netanyahu may have a message, but no audience.”

Netanyahu’s diplomatic efforts at the UN and a White House visit on Oct. 1 will also be clouded by new frictions with the Palestinians. Over the weekend, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas asked the UN to set a timetable for establishing a Palestinian state and accused Israel of perpetrating a “war of genocide” in Gaza -- a charge Netanyahu denounced as “slander and lies.”

Existential Threat

World powers are trying to reach a nuclear deal with Iran as a U.S.-led military coalition strikes Islamic State, an al- Qaeda splinter that has seized parts of Iraq and Syria and gained notoriety for beheadings and crucifixions. Although Iran isn’t part of that alliance, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has said it has a role to play in defeating Islamic State.

Kerry will have a private meeting with Netanyahu in New York this evening, said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.

Netanyahu says a nuclear-armed Iran would be a threat to Israel’s survival and dismisses the Iranian government’s claims that its atomic program is peaceful. Having brandished the threat of a possible military strike, he has urged that any nuclear deal between Iran and world powers force Iran to end its uranium enrichment and other activities that could be used in bomb making.

Iran says its nuclear work is designed for energy and medical purposes and has rejected those conditions. On Sept. 25, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told the General Assembly his country is “committed to continue our peaceful nuclear program, including enrichment, and to enjoy our full nuclear rights on Iranian soil.”

Hard Work

After addressing the UN, Netanyahu will make a brief trip to Washington to meet with President Barack Obama. The two men have had tense relations and at times Netanyahu has turned to allies in Congress seeking support for Israeli government policies on Iran and other issues.

The president, in his own remarks to the General Assembly on Sept. 24, only briefly mentioned the nuclear talks with Iran, assuring its leaders they can “reach a solution that meets your energy needs while assuring the world that your program is peaceful.”

Obama focused more on other threats to global security, including Islamic State, Russian actions in Ukraine, and Africa’s Ebola virus epidemic. With U.S.-led Mideast peacemaking in tatters, he also declared that “the violence engulfing the region today has made too many Israelis ready to abandon the hard work of peace.”

Common Ground

Negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians broke down in April, and were followed by an Israeli military offensive against Gaza militants in July and August. Israel was censured internationally for a Gaza death toll that topped 2,100, including hundreds of women and children. Israeli officials say the tally ballooned because Palestinian militants used civilians as human shields. Seventy-two people died on the Israeli side, almost all of them soldiers.

Finding common ground with the U.S. on Iran and other regional issues might require Netanyahu to be show more flexibility with the Palestinians, according to analyst Gilboa. “Both the defeat of Hamas and the threat of Islamic State produced an opportunity to move forward with Israeli-Arab relations,” he said.

Obama probably will want to hear from Netanyahu what the Israeli leader has meant in recent months with his repeated references to a new “political horizon,” Gilboa added.

Retired Major General Yaakov Amidror, Netanyahu’s former national security adviser, says he thinks that means new opportunities for cooperation with Arab nations that view radical Islamic states and groups as potential threats, rather than new moves on the Palestinian front.

“For the first time in the Middle East for many years there is a common interest among so many nations in the region to fight against common threats, which might serve as a basis of cooperation,” Amidror said. “How to do actually go about that, how to manage it, that’s the big question.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Calev Ben-David in Jerusalem at [email protected] To contact the editors responsible for this story: Alaa Shahine at [email protected] Amy Teibel

© Copyright 2024 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will urge world leaders to keep up the pressure on Iran over its nuclear program even as they confront the threat of Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.Netanyahu, addressing the United Nations General Assembly today, will...
netanyahu, iran, bigger, threat, than, isis
Sunday, 28 September 2014 05:32 PM
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