Israel's Netanyahu Calls on World to Change or Cancel Iran Deal

  • Says deal has emboldened Iran to flex its power in Middle East
  • Address makes scant mention of peace with the Palestinians

Trump Says Iran Nuclear Deal Is 'Embarrassment' to U.S.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on the world to change or cancel a nuclear deal with Iran, just hours after President Donald Trump called the agreement “an embarrassment to the United States.”

Netanyahu, who praised Trump’s speech earlier on Tuesday to the United Nations General Assembly as “courageous," singled out the deal’s so-called “sunset clause” -- which phases out the most significant restrictions on Iran over time -- as the most problematic aspect of the accord. He added that Iran must face severe sanctions for its ballistic missile program and should be prevented from extending its influence in Syria.

“The greater danger is not that Iran will rush to a single bomb by breaking the deal, but that Iran will be able to build many bombs by keeping the deal,” Netanyahu said in his UN General Assembly speech in New York. Denouncing Iran’s threats to destroy Israel, he added that “Israel will defend itself with the full force of our arms and the full power of our convictions.”

After eight years of clashing with former U.S. President Barack Obama over Iran and the Palestinians, Netanyahu thanked Trump effusively for his support for Israel. Trump has so far done little to pressure Israel vis-a-vis the Palestinians and, just before the two men met Monday, the U.S. president hinted he is considering pulling out of the Iran deal.

‘No Fiercer Enemy’

Netanyahu has acknowledged in the past that Israel has taken action to stop the transfer of advanced weapons from Syria to Hezbollah in Lebanon. Israel accuses Iran of leading the effort to build up Hezbollah’s capabilities both in Lebanon and Syria in order to threaten Israel with sophisticated weaponry. On Tuesday Netanyahu warned Iran against such efforts, saying Israel will act to prevent Iran from establishing military bases in Syria and from “opening new fronts against Israel along our northern border.”

“As long as Iran’s regime seeks the destruction of Israel, Iran will face no fiercer enemy than Israel,” Netanyahu said.

In his speech, Netanyahu also noted growing outreach to the Jewish state from many countries over the past recent year, saying they’re attracted by Israel’s prowess in key emerging industries like cybersecurity, autonomous vehicles and water technology. He criticized UN agencies that routinely pass anti-Israel resolutions, but said that even at the international body attitudes toward Israel are beginning to change. Israel is bidding for its first-ever seat on the UN Security Council, though it’s in a three-way race with Germany and Belgium for two available seats next year.

Noteworthy in Netanyahu’s speech was the scant emphasis he gave to peace efforts with the Palestinians. He said only that Israel is committed to achieving peace with all its Arab neighbors, "including the Palestinians," and says he discussed the matter "at great length" with Trump when they met on Monday. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is to address the General Assembly on Wednesday.

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