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Netanyahu Draws Red Line on Iranian Nuclear Program

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday, drawing attention to the ongoing Iranian program of nuclear enrichment. As he has done in recent weeks, Mr. Netanyahu called for “red lines” to be drawn to ensure that the Iranian regime does not achieve nuclear weapons capability.

Mr. Netanyahu began his address by invoking King David’s reign in Jerusalem in order to dispel the idea that Jews do not have roots in Israel. “Am Yisrael Chai,” said Mr. Netanyahu, in response to those who claim that the Jewish people will soon disappear from the region. “We ingathered the exiles, restored our independence and rebuilt our national life. The Jewish people have come home.”

Calling Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas’s speech earlier in the day “libelous,” Mr. Netanyahu asserted “that Israel cherishes peace and seeks peace,” despite Mr. Abbas’s claim to the contrary. The “Israeli Government rejects the two-State solution” was the refrain that Mr. Abbas had used, saying that it is the Palestinians who are extending their hands in peace so that the Palestinians should not be “the victims of a new nakba.” Mr. Netanyahu summarily rejected this, saying that Israel seeks “to forge a durable peace with the Palestinians” and “sit together, negotiate together, and reach a mutual compromise, in which a demilitarized Palestinian state recognizes the one and only Jewish State.”

Turning to the Iranian threat, Mr. Netanyahu contrasted a nuclear Iran to a nuclear Soviet Union, rejecting the idea that Mutually Assured Destruction is a viable deterrent to an Iranian attack. Quoting Middle East scholar Bernard Lewis, Mr. Netanyahu said, “for the Ayatollahs of Iran, mutually assured destruction is not a deterrent, it’s an inducement.” He compared a nuclear weapon in the hands of the Iranian regime to a “nuclear armed Al-Qaeda.”

“At this late hour, there is only one way to peacefully prevent Iran from getting atomic bombs. That’s by placing a clear red line on Iran’s nuclear weapons program.” Mr. Netanyahu removed a diagram of a cartoon bomb from his podium and a red marker and proceeded to draw a red line on the bomb, indicating when it will be too late to stop Iran from amassing enough enriched uranium to create a usable weapon. “When faced with a clear red line,” the Prime Minister argued, “Iran will back down.” Mr. Netanyahu framed the conflict as a struggle between the forces of “modernity” and “medievalism,” with Israel standing “proudly with the forces of modernity” in its protection of human rights for members of all religions. “The forces of medievalism seek a world in which women and minorities are subjugated, in which knowledge is suppressed, in which not life but death is glorified.”

Despite tensions between the Israeli premier and President Obama over the Iranian “red lines,” Mr. Netanyahu thanked Mr. Obama who on Tuesday “reiterated that the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran cannot be contained” and said that both Israel and the United States “share the goal of stopping Iran’s nuclear weapons program.” Mr. Netanyahu concluded his remarks with the message to “heed the words of the Jewish prophets Isaiah, Amos, and Jeremiah to treat all with dignity and compassion, to pursue justice and cherish life and to pray and strive for peace.”