Netanyahu Concedes Iran Loss, Urges `Rigor' on Nuclear Deal

  • Sanctions should snap back quickly if violations discovered
  • Calls previously strained U.S. ties `unshakable' at UN

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged the world to be vigilant on Iran’s adherence to a recently signed nuclear deal, showing resignation to the global embrace of the Islamic Republic.

Netanyahu muted his usually aggressive rhetoric at the annual session of the United Nations General Assembly -- three years ago he held up a drawing of a ticking bomb -- and instead called on governments to enforce the multinational agreement reached between Iran and six world powers in July "with a little more rigor."

“Make sure that the inspectors actually inspect,” Netanyahu said on Thursday. “Make sure that the snapback sanctions actually snap back. Make sure that Iran’s violations aren’t swept under the Persian rug.”

Israel has staunchly opposed any rapprochement between the U.S. and Iran, with the prime minister leading a campaign against easing international sanctions against the Islamic Republic in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program. Such Israeli efforts failed after the accord survived a 60-day U.S. Congressional review last month.

‘Unleashed and Unmuzzled’

“Keep Iran’s feet to the fire,” said Netanyahu who held up a copy of the Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s book of speeches, which call for the eradication of Israel. “Unleashed and unmuzzled, Iran will go on the prowl devouring more and more prey.”

He reiterated Israel’s commitment to protect itself against its “common enemies,” grouping Islamic State with Iran.

“The days when the Jewish people stayed silent are over,” Netanyahu said. “No one should question Israel’s determination to defend ourselves against those who seek our destruction.”

Netanyahu also sought to mend his relationship with U.S. President Barack Obama after ties were strained earlier this year over the nuclear deal. He called the differences in opinion "a disagreement within the family."

U.S. Alliance

“But in Israel, we never forget one thing, we never forget that the most important partner that Israel has had, has always been and will always be the United States of America,” Netanyahu said. “The alliance between Israel and the United States is unshakable.”

Separately, Netanyahu offered to move the Middle East peace process forward, declaring that he is "prepared to immediately resume direct negotiations with the Palestinian Authority without any pre-conditions whatsoever."

Netanyahu added that it was unfortunate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday said in his UN address that the Palestinian people are not bound by agreements signed with Israel.

"I remain committed to the vision of two states for two peoples," he said. "Israel expects the Palestinians to implement their commitments and not walk away."

Chief Palestinian peace negotiator Saeb Erekat criticized the "inaccuracies" in Netanyahu’s speech, saying Israel’s settlement activity in the West Bank contradicts his claimed readiness for direct peace negotiations.

"The path forward is clear: International involvement is necessary, and Israel must fulfill the agreements it has previously signed, including the full cessation of settlement activities," Erekat said in an e-mailed statement.

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