March 11, 2014
Netanyahu: World powers must demand Iran change 'genocidal' anti-Israel policy
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has urged the United States and other world powers to demand that Iran change what he called its "genocidal" anti-Israel policy as part of negotiations with Tehran on a final nuclear deal.
Cautioning the international community to "beware" of Iran's intentions, Netanyahu underscored his deep skepticism over an interim deal reached with Iran last month in Geneva and insisted that any long-term accord must bring about the "termination of Iran's military nuclear capability."
Netanyahu, speaking via satellite link from Jerusalem, warned a foreign policy forum in Washington: "The jury is still out. Iran is perilously close to crossing the nuclear threshold."
US President Barack Obama, addressed the same forum yesterday and defended diplomacy with Iran but sought to reassure Israelis with a pledge to step up sanctions or prepare for a potential military strike if Tehran fails to abide by the pact.
Netanyahu, who had denounced the Nov. 24 six-month interim deal as a "historic mistake," avoided direct criticism of Obama's engagement with Iran - just as he did during a visit to Israel by US Secretary of State John Kerry last week.
But the hawkish Israeli prime minister added a new twist to his pressure campaign, aimed at ensuring that world powers seek maximum concessions from Iran in the further negotiations.
"This is a regime committed to our destruction and I believe there must be an unequivocal demand alongside the negotiations in Geneva for a change in Iran policy," Netanyahu told a largely pro-Israel audience. "This must be part and parcel of the negotiations."
Netanyahu accused Iran of supplying thousands of rockets to anti-Israel Islamist groups he called Tehran's "terrorist proxies," including Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad. He also cited a recent comment by Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei calling Israel the "rabid dog" of the Middle East.
"What is required is not just a shift in the minutiae of Iran's capability...to produce nuclear weapons, but also a demand to change its genocidal policy," Netanyahu said. However, he did not specify how his proposal would work.
Iran's new president, Hassan Rouhani, a relative moderate, has steered clear of the Holocaust-denial rhetoric of his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in reaching out to the West. Rouhani has denied that Iran seeks a nuclear bomb, despite Israeli and Western suspicions to the contrary.