On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke at the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America in New Orleans. His issues were simple: the greatest threat of Iran and the attempt to "de-legitimise" Israel.
Netanyahu first set out the menace of Tehran:
The greatest danger facing Israel and the world is the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran. Iran threatens to annihilate Israel. It denies the Holocaust. It sponsors terror. It confronts America in Afghanistan and Iraq. It dominates Lebanon and Gaza. It establishes beachheads in Arabia and in Africa. It even spreads its influence into this hemisphere, into South America.
Now, this is what Iran is doing without nuclear weapons. Imagine what it would do with them. Imagine the devastation that its terror proxies, Hezbollah and Hamas and others, would wreak under an Iranian nuclear umbrella.
This is why Israel appreciates President Obama's successful efforts to have the UN Security Council adopt new sanctions against Iran.
But we have yet to see any signs that the tyrants of Tehran are reconsidering their pursuit of nuclear weapons. The only time that Iran suspended its nuclear program was for a brief period in 2003 when the regime believed it faced a credible threat of military action against it. And the simple paradox is this: if the international community, led by the United States, hopes to stop Iran’s nuclear program without resorting to military action, it will have to convince Iran that it is prepared to take such action. Containment will not work against Iran. It won’t work with a brazen regime that accuses America of bombing its own cities on 9/11, openly calls for Israel’s annihilation, and is the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism.
So, Netanyahu said, economic pressure on Iran is working but not sufficient: Washington must show its determination to pursue military action unless Tehran steps back.
The second danger is the "assault on Israel’s legitimacy". This threat, however, is not from Iran or Hezbollah or even Hamas. Instead, it comes from the Goldstone Report of the United Nations on the 2008/9 Gaza War. Netanyahu said the authors owe an apology to West Jerusalem:
The establishment of Israel did not end the hatred towards the Jews. It merely redirected it. The old hatred against the Jewish people is now focused against the Jewish state.
What should be done? Netanyahu proposed:
Israel also wants a secure peace. We do not want to vacate more territory only to see Iran walk in and fire thousands of rockets at our cities. That is exactly what happened after we left Lebanon and Gaza. We don’t want to see rockets and missiles streaming into a Palestinian state and placed on the hills above Tel Aviv and the hills encircling Jerusalem. If Israel does not maintain a credible security presence in the Jordan Valley for the foreseeable future, this is exactly what will happen.
I will not let that happen.
We do not want security on paper. We want security on the ground. Real security. I am willing to make mutual compromises for a genuine peace with the Palestinians, but I will not gamble with the security of the Jewish state. Palestinian leaders who say they want to live peacefully alongside Israel should sit down and negotiate peace with Israel. They should stop placing preconditions and start negotiating peace. The Palestinians may think they can avoid negotiations. They may think that the world will dictate Palestinian demands to Israel. I firmly believe that will not happen because I am confident that friends of Israel, led by the United States, will not let that happen. There is only one path to peace –-- that is through a negotiated settlement.
"Settlements" were in the news on Monday, although not in the sense that Netanyahu used the word. Over the weekend, the Jerusalem District Planning and Building Committee published details of a program that will allow 930 housing units in East Jerusalem.
US State Department spokesman Philip J. Crowley responded: "We were deeply disappointed by the announcement of advance planning for new housing units in sensitive areas of East Jerusalem. It is counter-productive to our efforts to resume direct negotiations between the parties."
This concern, however, has no place on Netanyahu's agenda, not while the nightmares of Iran and international institutions can take pride of place.