Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has delivered another fiery speech at the UN General Assembly, accusing Iran of nuclear ambitions and regional aggression and branding criticism of Israel as anti-Semitic.
Drawing a sharp contrast to last year, the Israeli PM exuded satisfaction that US President Donald Trump has since unilaterally torn up the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, which the previous US administration backed against Netanyahu’s objections.
His message was clear: with Washington on Israel’s side, his government doesn’t care what the UN may think or say.
Netanyahu accused Iran of conducting a “campaign of carnage and conquest throughout the Middle East,” while continuing to harbor nuclear ambitions. As proof of that, he cited his April presentation about a “nuclear archive” Israeli spies raided in Tehran. Then came the bombshell: Iran also had a “secret atomic warehouse,” he claimed, holding up satellite and street photos of the facility, and naming its location: Maher Alley in Tehran’s Turquzabad district.
READ MORE: Israel’s Netanyahu claims Iran has a ‘secret atomic warehouse in Tehran’
Radioactive rugs & Amazon Geiger counters
Channeling his April presentation, Netanyahu described the warehouse as being an “innocent-looking compound” next door to a rug-cleaning business, and even made a joke that the rug-cleaners are doing a “fantastic job.”
He accused the Iranians of “scurrying” to clean up the warehouse and spreading 15 kilograms of radioactive material around Tehran in an effort to hide the evidence. It was at this point he made a strange joke about Iranian inflation and commerce with the US, suggesting that Tehran residents buy Geiger counters on Amazon for $30, or about four million rials.
READ MORE: Iran warns Israel it will ‘regret’ further attacks on Syria & allies
The warehouse might contain up to 300 tons of “nuclear-related equipment and materiel” in 15 “ship containers,” Netanyahu alleged, demanding international inspection “right here, right now.”
Leaving no room for doubt as to how he felt, Netanyahu warned the “tyrants of Tehran” that Israel will not allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon, “Not now, not in 10 years, not ever!”
Another thread running through Netanyahu’s Philippic was that Iran was a regional aggressor –backing Houthis in Yemen, threatening to close the Persian Gulf, attacking Kurds in Iraq, fighting in Syria, and backing groups opposed to Israel, such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza.
“We will act against you in Syria, we will act against you in Lebanon, we will act against you in Iraq, we will act against you in whenever, wherever,” the Israeli PM thundered from the UN dais, to applause from his delegation.
Bringing up Hezbollah, Netanyahu once again resorted to holding up satellite photos, this time of the international airport in Beirut, Lebanon. The Shia militia is upgrading its missiles for better accuracy, he claimed, and has placed three secret conversion sites near the airport, using civilians as human shields.
“Here’s a picture that’s worth a 1,000 missiles,” he said, holding up a satellite photo, and warning Hezbollah that “Israel will not let you get away with it.”
Israel launched a full-scale assault on Hezbollah in southern Lebanon in July 2006. Both sides claimed victory after the 34-day war.
A beautiful friendship
The 2015 Iran nuclear deal did have one positive consequence, Netanyahu said, albeit an unintended one: it brought Israel and Iran’s Gulf Arab enemies closer together in what he described as “intimacy and friendship that I have not seen in my lifetime and that would have been unimaginable a few years before.”
These new friendships may result in formal peace treaties between Israel and Arabs, “including the Palestinians,” Netanyahu said.
By contrast, the Israeli PM blistered European Union leaders for “appeasement” of Iran, deliberately framing the phrase in the context of WWII and the Holocaust, while blasting the UN for habitually “slandering Israel.”
Though the resolution equating Zionism to racism was repealed 25 years ago, “its foul stench still clings to these halls,” Netanyahu admonished the General Assembly, which had adopted Resolution 3379 in November 1975, and revoked it in December 1991.
Herzl imagined Israel as “a rampart of Europe against Asia, an outpost of civilization as opposed to barbarism.” At #UNGA today, Netanyahu trashed Europe for “appeasement” & touted his “intimate friendship” with theocratic Gulf monarchs. Zionism’s contradictions are in the open.
— Max Blumenthal (@MaxBlumenthal) September 27, 2018
Arguing that Israel is and can be both a Jewish national state and a democracy, Netanyahu said that every Israeli citizen has the same individual rights. He called criticism of the recent law declaring Israel a Jewish nation-state “downright preposterous.”
These criticisms are hypocritical, inappropriate, and the “same old anti-Semitism with a brand new face,” Netanyahu said.
He had nothing but praise, however, for the Trump administration, name-checking both the US president and his UN envoy Nikki Haley to thank them for “unwavering support” of his country’s cause in the world organization.
Though Netanyahu invoked a line of Biblical figures as proof of his people’s claim to the land of Israel and Jerusalem, it was clear that his confidence on the world stage was based on the backing of a more earthly power: the United States of America.
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