Strike inevitable as Iran mocks World Powers

With an interim agreement reached and signed in Geneva between the P-5+1 and Iran on Saturday, the US Government seems content while subsequent events clearly indicate Iran is not planning on keeping its end of the bargain leaving Netanyahu no option but to order a strike.

A couple of quick pen strokes signaled the sealing of the (interim) agreement in the early hours of Sunday after four long days of negotiations. Soon thereafter, near-euphoric headlines emerged around the world notifying the international community of this happening. Yet there is little to rejoice about.

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IDF destroys Syrian mortar after two soldiers wounded

The incident marks the first time Israeli troops are wounded by spillover from Syrian fighting • IDF says shells were stray rounds, files complaint with U.N. forces in the area • Army has noted multiple instances of spillover along the border in past month.

IDF troops at the Golan Heights, Wednesday

IDF troops at the Golan Heights, Wednesday

The Israel Defense Forces destroyed a Syrian mortar used to launch shells that wounded two Israeli soldiers in the northern Golan Heights on Wednesday.

Army Radio reported that the IDF fired a Tammuz missile at the Syrian mortar and confirmed its destruction.

The two soldiers were wounded by shrapnel when two mortar shells exploded Wednesday, marking the first time Israeli troops on the Syrian border have been wounded from spillover from the fighting in Syria. The army stated that the mortar rounds were strays fired during fighting on the Syrian side of the border between rebels and the Syrian military, and that a complaint was filed with the U.N. forces in the area.

The IDF has noted increased fighting near the Syrian border recently, citing multiple instances of spillover in the past month. Last Tuesday, workers constructing a security barrier near an IDF fortification on the Golan Heights were fired upon. No one was wounded in the incident, though the gunfire caused a fire. In September, an IDF vehicle sustained fire from the Syrian side of the border. Soldiers fired back at the source of the shooting, and there were no injuries in the incident.

In August, an errant Syrian artillery shell exploded on the Golan Heights. The IDF returned fire with a Tammuz missile and destroyed the Syrian position. In July, seven mortar rounds exploded in Israel during skirmishes between the Syrian regime and rebel forces.

Historical IDF tweet sends oil soaring

Traders mistake 40-year-old commemoration of attack on Syrian airports for actual news, setting off buying rally

Wall Street on Thursday

Wall Street on Thursday

Twitter message by the Israel Defense Forces commemorating an Israeli bombing raid 40 years ago spooked oil traders Thursday, sending prices spiraling upward on the old news.

The tweet reported on Israeli bombing raids on Syrian airports to stop Soviet weapons transfers and carried the hashtag #YomKippur73, intended to clue readers in that this was part of a series of messages by the IDF commemorating the war.

Instead, international Brent traders misread the tweet as a clue that oil would soon become scarcer, and began buying, sending the price from $110.40 a barrel to $111.50, according to Reuters.

Oil prices in the US also rose by over a dollar to close at $103, spurred by the tweet and other news out of the Mideast and Washington.

John Kilduff, a founding partner of hedge fund Again Capital, told AFP he saw the news on an online energy trading forum without the hashtag, making it look like a fresh attack.

“There was confusion on that tweet and it got bandied about as a new attack,” he said.

The IDF indicated it believed the confusion was unwarranted.

“Obviously this was part of our Yom Kippur Twitter series. The facts are there and simple to read. It was apparent within the tweet itself,” IDF Spokesperson Peter Lerner told Reuters.

Prices did not go any lower once traders realized their mistake, staying high and gaining a few more cents on the rally, which began earlier in the morning on the news that Libya’s prime minister had been kidnapped. The price eventually closed at $111.80, up $2.74 for the day.

“The rumor seems to have got stuff going,” one trader told Reuters.

The actual Yom Kippur War in 1973 sent oil costs surging as well, after OPEC nations decided to embargo the US in response to Washington’s decision to arm Israel.

“Palestinians cannot be trusted with real peace”

Brig. Gen. (res.) Udi Dekel, who was party to the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations for over 20 years, has a disillusioned view of the peace process • “Chance of achieving peace are slim. Differences on core issues have only grown,” he says.

A caption from Stand With Us in Israel referring to the need for Palestinians to 'reall' want peace

A caption from Stand With Us in Israel referring to the need for Palestinians to ‘really’ want peace

Nine months. That’s the amount of time the people running the American-sponsored talks between Israel and the Palestinians allotted for reaching a peace treaty. If a permanent agreement is reached, Brig. Gen. (res.) Udi Dekel will eat his hat.

But if you ask Dekel, who for two decades closely followed the various attempts to hold talks with the Palestinians, the chance of that happening is slim. So he supports the idea of an interim agreement with the Palestinians, as do formerly high-ranking figures such as Yossi Beilin.

Dekel has been following the talks with the Palestinians from up close for many years. Today he is the deputy director of the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv. Recently he presented Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with a 1600-page book summing up all the talks that have ever taken place between Israel and the Palestinians.

From 2007 to 2009, Dekel served as the head of Israel’s negotiating team in Ehud Olmert’s government. Olmert, Tzipi Livni and Ehud Barak appointed Dekel after he left the Israel Defense Forces at the rank of brigadier-general, after having served as the head of the Strategic Planning Division in the General Staff’s Planning Directorate. Before that, he served as the chief of staff’s assistant for diplomatic agreements. There really is such a position — it is filled by the army official responsible for the peace talks, and his job is to provide the security-related perspective, which is an essential part of any peace agreement. Before that, Dekel served as head of the Research Division in Air Force Intelligence and as the IAF’s representative in discussions about peace agreements.

“Oslo started with a progressive approach of stage-by-stage progress,” Dekel says in a special interview. “It didn’t work. Ehud Olmert changed the approach. He came along and said, ‘Enough working on the process. Let’s work on the question of the conclusion, the question of the final-status agreement. Let’s decide what we want in the final-status agreement, and then we’ll see how to get there.’ That was the idea of the Annapolis summit: to discuss the final-status arrangement while continuing to move forward according to the road map.

“We had 12 committees at Annapolis that discussed issues such as the economy, infrastructures, environmental quality, border crossings, water transfer, various legal issues such as extradition agreements, and also the issue of the Palestinian prisoners. One of the committees even discussed the culture of peace. We reached agreements on all topics. Tzipi Livni coordinated all the teams’ work. She ran the talks very responsibly and seriously. She examined every issue thoroughly. She did not rush things. She did not promise things she could not commit to. At the same time, she built trust among the Palestinians; they saw that she was truly striving to reach an agreement with them. That was very important. It created a positive approach in the rooms where the meetings took place.

“The subject of Jerusalem wasn’t discussed in the teams. Olmert put it on the table at the end. A partition plan for the city was suggested that got to the level of street names. The basis of the Jerusalem partition plan was that the Jewish neighborhoods would be on the Israeli side, and the Arab neighborhoods would be on the Palestinian side. They suggested a partition of the Old City and the creation of a joint municipal agency. A special status was discussed for the Holy Basin that would include the Temple Mount, the Mount of Olives, Mount Zion and the City of David.

“The land would be managed by a third party. An international force would be established that would serve as a police force in the area. For example, the commander would be American and have two deputies, an Israeli and a Palestinian. The Waqf would keep managing the Temple Mount, and an international force would be in charge of security. Regarding sovereignty, a decision was made not to decide. Neither they nor we would give up sovereignty. We demand sovereignty over the place. Now, on the strength of our sovereignty, we give authority to a third party there.”

The result is well known.

“We accomplished nothing because the Palestinians decided to run away,” Dekel says. “The moment Olmert put the things on the table, with a generous proposal from our perspective, they decided to vanish. They didn’t want to say yes or no. They avoided saying no because they wanted to keep all the flexibility that Israel had put on the table.

“As much as we love to blame ourselves — and we do — the other side is as much to blame as we are that there is no agreement. At Camp David, too, in the talks between Arafat, Barak and Clinton and in the talks with Olmert, the other side refused to accept things in which we met them halfway. Every time it reached the testing point, the Palestinians decided not to make the hard decisions.”

Q: What about Olmert?

“Olmert took the whole package and wanted to play give-and-take with it. So we make territorial concessions, and they make security-related concessions. The Palestinians wanted to take Olmert’s proposal and break it up into the 12 committees that we established in Annapolis so they could benefit from Israel’s flexibility without having to give anything in return.”

According to Dekel, “The Palestinians didn’t want to close with Olmert. Later, they said that the reason they didn’t take the proposal was that Olmert didn’t stay on as prime minister, and the next prime minister was evidently going to be Netanyahu and not Livni. Regarding Netanyahu, they didn’t believe he would carry out the agreement that Olmert had proposed, so what would they gain by agreeing to Olmert’s proposal? A situation would be created in which the plan would be revealed and Mahmoud Abbas would be considered a traitor, since all the Palestinians’ flexibility would be exposed, and no agreement was reached.

“When the critical moment arrives where the tough decisions have to be made, they don’t have the courage, leadership or the drive to make those tough decisions. Then it’s easy for them to find some issue and get the process stuck on it, and gain what they can at that moment. Back in Olmert’s time, the Palestinians decided that they were going to play on the international court. They believed that there, it would be easier for them to gain much more.”

According to Dekel, the Palestinians say they have “natural rights to the land, and that they don’t need anything from Israel. They say Israel came from a position of strength, as rulers, with the strong army, but they come with a natural right. Now, with their right, they are coming to receive recognition from the international community.”

They’re still doing that today, aren’t they?

“Yes. Today, too, their purpose in going into the talks is to prove that Israel is not a partner, that Israel is not willing to move forward. Even now, we understand from the leaks on the Palestinian side that they’re saying Israel is not flexible enough and isn’t moving enough, in the talks, in the direction they want. This is an obvious trend whose purpose is to prepare the ground so that later, they will be able to come to the international community and say: ‘We tried, but Israel isn’t willing to move forward and reach an agreement, so go ahead and give us what we want.’

“I don’t see any chance that we will reach a permanent agreement. The gaps in the core issues haven’t narrowed from the talks in Olmert’s time to those in Netanyahu’s. They’ve only grown wider.”

Dekel is the one who coined the phrase “Anything agreed upon will be implemented” — the same motto uttered frequently by those known as “the Oslo people,” who, like Dekel, favor an interim agreement.

“It’s true that I’m the one who came up with that sentence, and people were angry with me when I said it then,” he says, and hastens to explain the idea behind it.

“The rule that governed the talks with the Palestinians during Ehud Olmert’s time was that nothing would be agreed upon until everything had been agreed upon. The idea on which this approach was based was to create flexibility in the negotiating room. What it really did was create stubbornness. My understanding is that to change a reality, you have to take steps that change that reality all the time. My idea says that if something was agreed upon — for example, today we can agree about water — why not implement it?

“The game where you’re not willing to make any concessions as long as there’s no permanent arrangement isn’t relevant. My approach, and that of those who were involved in past negotiations, is that the chance of reaching a final-status agreement is slim. Now, as long as there’s positive potential in the talks, there’s a chance to build an alternative.”

Dekel suggests looking at the possibility of an interim agreement or “independent step,” as he puts it.

“A final-status agreement will remain the final goal, but we need to decide that we’re going to change the reality in stages. Israel has an interest in the establishment of a Palestinian state with temporary borders and in anchoring the two-state solution. So let’s get there, and we’ll catch up on the details later.

“There’s no need to determine the borders — just the principle of the borders. Tomorrow morning, we can establish a state for the Palestinians that includes more than 60 percent of the land in the West Bank without evacuating the settlements, with complete freedom of movement for them, as well as control of the area. It’s true that it isn’t completely a sovereign state, but it’s a significant leap from their current situation.

“While the concepts of ‘unilateral’ and ‘disengagement’ are unpopular, we must also plan unilateral measures as a relevant option. We’re busy with strategic planning in a changing environment. We can no longer plan something and figure out the goal as we go. The new policy has to be that at each point in time, you have to create as many options as you can that will anchor the main principle.

“Now the main thing is to protect Israel as a Jewish and democratic state and anchor the two-state solution. There is broad agreement on these two principles. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his coalition agree on them, and there is agreement outside the coalition as well. After all, we’ve been trying unsuccessfully to reach an agreement for the past 20 years.

“It’s obvious that a permanent agreement is preferable, but if there is no chance of that, then we need to find a solution that is good for us. An interim agreement will anchor what is good for us. It makes no mention of the return of the refugees. There is no change in Jerusalem. We are keeping the settlement blocs in our control and deploying along the route of the security barrier. We are keeping the army deployed in the Jordan Valley. It’s true that the demands are endless, but a new situation has been created that the world will have to deal with.

“What will we accomplish by that? You are giving up land and making concessions on many topics, the conflict is continuing, the other side has made no commitment to stop what it is doing in the international arena and the conflict on the ground is continuing.

“The new strategic approach says: ‘Let’s take the tools we have and shape the situation without depending on what the other side wants. Staying in place is a bad thing because all you do is accumulate demerits without making progress toward your goals, with or without the other side.'”

Dekel adds that the process of unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip is not like the measures that would be taken in a unilateral interim agreement in Judea and Samaria — first, because there would be no evacuation of settlements; second, because the Jordan Valley would remain under Israeli control.

“We’re not making the border porous. We’re preventing the entry of arms and of people whom we don’t want to go inside the Palestinian state,” he says. “One way or another, we reserve the right to defend ourselves, and if we must take security-related measures within it, we will do so.”

Israel Security Agency reports dramatic rise in terror attacks

The Shin Bet says 133 terror attacks were noted in September, compared with 68 attacks in August • West Bank a hotbed for terror activity • Intelligence indicates a steady rise in terror organizations’ motivation to abduct Israeli soldiers.

israeli security forces

israeli security forces


The number of terror attacks and attempted terror attacks rose dramatically in September from August, a report by the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) revealed Thursday. According to the Shin Bet’s data, 133 terror attacks took place in September, compared with 68 attacks in August.

The two most notable terror attacks were the murders of Israeli soldiers Staff Sgt. Gal (Gabriel) Kobi, 20, on Sept. 19, and Sgt. Tomer Hazan, 20, on Sept. 21.

The report noted that most terror attacks in the past month — 104 — took place in Judea and Samaria, compared with 68 terror attacks in the territories in August. Four terror attacks took place near the Gaza Strip border in September (compared with five in August), and 26 attacks took place in Jerusalem (25 in August).

The Shin Bet further noted that defense intelligence indicated that there was a rise in terror organizations’ motivation to abduct Israeli soldiers, especially across Judea and Samaria, to use them as bargaining chips in potential negotiations for the release of Palestinian prisoners.

“The effort to carry out abductions is a familiar one and it is directed by the terror organizations’ headquarters abroad, as well as by security prisoners incarcerated in Israel, who strive to use [such abductions] as a means to promote their release,” a statement posted on the Shin Bet’s website said. “Over the past few months, especially since November 2012’s Operation Pillar of Defense, a more focused effort has been made to that effect, especially by Hamas, the Islamic Jihad and Fatah.”

The Shin Bet said that since Operation Pillar of Defense Hamas has been promoting the abduction of Israeli soldiers “as part of its attempts to cement its position as the entity leading the ‘resistance’ and armed struggle against Israel.”

The Islamic Jihad, “whose operational leeway has been curtailed by Hamas in Gaza (as it attempts to maintain security in the Strip) is also in search of new operational theaters and is focusing on abduction as a means of promoting the release of its prisoners,” the Shin Bet said on its website.

“Fatah, which is wary of leaving ‘the Palestinian street’ to Hamas, is seeking to garner ‘bonus points’ that, as they see it, would counter Hamas’ achievements in the [2011] Schalit deal and Operation Pillar of Defense,” the statement said.

The Shin Bet’s report said, “There has been growing motivation among Palestinian terror groups to execute abduction attacks for the purpose of a prisoner exchange. The past few months have also seen a rise in the threat of abduction, which has manifested in the growing number of terror cells intercepted by Israeli security forces before they could set their plans into motion.”

According to the report, Israeli security forces have thwarted 37 abduction plots since the beginning of 2013.





Incredible Speech by Netanyahu at United Nations

Diplomats laud Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to the U.N. General Assembly, saying it brought honor to Israel  • Professor Alan Dershowitz calls it one of the best speeches ever heard at the U.N.

Dozens of U.N. ambassadors and representatives from many countries approached Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday following his address before the General Assembly, to offer him their congratulations on a speech they said honored the State of Israel.

“This is the best combination of solid facts and reason ever spoken in the U.N.,” prominent law professor Alan Dershowitz said.

“This is one of the most brilliant speeches and best performances I have ever seen. As a law professor, I would give his speech an A+. He is sending Iran an important message that Israel will never let it develop nuclear weapons and as a last resort will even take military action. He also sent an important message to the Europeans, that they can’t allow Iran to do what North Korea did. And it also sends an important message to the Americans that they are not acting alone and that Israel is an independent country that won’t outsource its use of force or defense to American citizens.

“The speech also sent a message to The New York Times,” Dershowitz said. “You were wrong about North Korea and you were wrong about Iran, and the world has learned to ignore your opinion pages.”

Members of the Israeli delegation who accompanied Netanyahu to the U.N. also responded to the speech.

“The gimmick of this entire speech was is that you don’t need any gimmicks when you have facts. Any solution will have to stand the test of Netanyahu’s four conditions,” Homefront Defense Minister Gilad Erdan said.

“This was a speech that told the truth, the facts,” Deputy Foreign Minister Zeev Elkin said. “There is symbolism in the fact that the last sentence spoken at the U.N. General Assembly, in the face of all the lies and phony smiles, was that ‘the people of Israel will never be uprooted again.’ The president of the United States and the West speak about the fact that they intend to wait for actions. Let us all hope this happens.”

Facts versus smiles

Netanyahu told his advisors on Tuesday that the purpose of the speech was to counter smiles with facts and to illustrate the contradictions behind Hasan Rouhani’s charm offensive at the U.N.

“I feel we can puncture the Iranian balloon,” Netanyahu said on Tuesday.

Netanyahu said he was certain that it would be his message, and not Rouhani’s, that would resonate with the world’s governments and global public opinion. After his address, many representatives from different nations came to shake Netanyahu’s hand, expressing their appreciation for his words.

Netanyahu found a receptive audience during his meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama on Monday, but Obama is still undecided about his plan of action. The Americans have the upper hand, but the question of what they will do with it still remains. Netanyahu believes that now is the time to decide on a joint U.S.-Israeli policy to stop the Iranian nuclear program. Israel and the U.S. have a common goal and need to make sure that actions and not words are what decide the outcome.

Making life difficult for the Iranians

Netanyahu’s activities vis-à-vis Obama, the U.N. and the U.S. media in the coming days are meant to deflate Rouhani’s momentum, and he intends to combine reason with facts in a way that resonates.

The prime minister’s advisors this week recalled Netanyahu’s first meeting with Obama, which preceded the sanctions on Iran. It took place in 2007 in the janitor’s office at Reagan National Airport. Netanyahu was a candidate for prime minister and opposition MK and Obama was serving on the Illinois Senate. At the time, Obama asked, “What is most important to you?”

“Sanctions combined with a credible threat will stop Iran from becoming a nuclear state,” Netanyahu responded. Two weeks later, Obama proposed a Senate bill to step up the sanctions imposed on Iran.

Netanyahu believes that his recent actions has made life harder for the Iranians. His pressure is helping the Americans decide, the prime minister’s associates hedged.

Netanyahu said that Rouhani wants to turn Iran into a threshold country — a country that would be able to produce a nuclear bomb within three weeks if deciding to do so. Thus, the prime minister believes there is no change in Iran’s approach and that Rouhani is simply Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s lackey. A senior diplomatic source told Israel Hayom on Tuesday that at present, there are three significant players in the arena: Israel, Iran and the United States.

In the past the Europeans and Americans decided to impose economic sanctions on Iran as a result of Israel’s threat that if no such sanctions were imposed, it may take military action.

The Europeans’ real concern is that Israel will act alone. Netanyahu once again raised the specter of a military threat, to advance a diplomatic solution, one that will allow the negotiations with Iran to progress in the right way, without lifting the sanctions. At present, the goal of Netanyahu’s military threat is to keep the sanctions in effect.

Among Israeli politicians, reactions to the speech were mixed.

“Standing there, he honorably represented the entire nation,” said MK Eli Yishai (Shas). “I hope that his cry rouses those who are sleeping.”

“This may be Netanyahu’s most important speech of the past several decades,” said Deputy Minister Ofir Akunis.

Opposition Chairwoman Shelly Yachimovich (Labor) said that she agreed with Netanyahu’s facts but not with his presentation. “The international community must not form the impression or come to believe that the Iranian problem is solely Israel’s problem.”

“Netanyahu is going back to the old rhetoric of threats and fear-mongering,” Meretz Chairwoman Zehava Gal-On said.


Full text of speech:

I feel deeply honored and privileged to stand here before you today representing the citizens of the State of Israel.

We are an ancient people. We date back nearly 4,000 years to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. We have journeyed through time, we’ve overcome the greatest of adversities, and we re-established our sovereign state in our ancestral homeland, the Land of Israel.

The Jewish people’s odyssey through time has taught us two things: Never give up hope. Always remain vigilant. Hope charts the future. Vigilance protects it.

Today, our hope for the future is challenged by a nuclear-armed Iran that seeks our destruction. But I want you to know that wasn’t always the case. Some 2,500 years ago, the great Persian King Cyrus ended the Babylonian exile of the Jewish people. He issued a famous edict in which he proclaimed the right of the Jews to return to the Land of Israel and rebuild the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. That’s a Persian decree, and thus began a historic friendship between the Jews and the Persians that lasted until modern times.

But in 1979, a radical regime in Tehran tried to stamp out that friendship. As it was busy crushing the Iranian people’s hopes for democracy, it also led wild chants of “Death to the Jews!” Now, since that time, presidents of Iran have come and gone. Some presidents were considered moderates, others hardliners. But they’ve all served that same unforgiving creed, that same unforgetting regime — that creed that is espoused and enforced by the real power in Iran, the dictator known in Iran as the Supreme Leader, first Ayatollah Khomeini and now Ayatollah Khamenei. President Rouhani, like the presidents who came before him, is a loyal servant of the regime. He was one of only six candidates the regime permitted to run for office. Nearly 700 other candidates were rejected.

So what made him acceptable? Well, Rouhani headed Iran’s Supreme National Security Council from 1989 through 2003. During that time, Iran’s henchmen gunned down opposition leaders in a Berlin restaurant. They murdered 85 people at the Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires. They killed 19 American soldiers by blowing up the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia. Are we to believe that Rouhani, the national security adviser of Iran at the time, knew nothing about these attacks?

Of course he did.

Just as 30 years ago, Iran’s security chiefs knew about the bombings in Beirut that killed 241 American marines and 58 French paratroopers.

Rouhani was also Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator between 2003 and 2005. He masterminded the strategy which enabled Iran to advance its nuclear weapons program behind a smokescreen of diplomatic engagement and very soothing rhetoric. Now I know Rouhani does not sound like Ahmadinejad. But when it comes to Iran’s nuclear weapons program, the only difference between them is this: Ahmadinejad was a wolf in wolf’s clothing and Rouhani is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, a wolf who thinks he can pull the wool over the eyes of the international community.

Like everyone else, I wish we could believe Rouhani’s words. But we must focus on Iran’s actions.

And it’s the brazen contrast, this extraordinary contradiction between Rouhani’s words and Iran’s actions that is so startling. Rouhani stood at this very podium last week and praised Iranian democracy. Iranian democracy, he said.

But the regime that he represents executes political dissidents by the hundreds and jails them by the thousands. Rouhani spoke of “the human tragedy in Syria.” Yet Iran directly participates in Assad’s murder and massacre of tens of thousands of innocent men, women, and children in Syria, and that regime is propping up a Syrian regime that just used chemical weapons against its own people.

Rouhani condemned the “violent scourge of terrorism.” Yet in the last three years alone Iran has ordered, planned or perpetrated terrorist attacks in 25 cities on five continents.

Rouhani denounces “attempts to change the regional balance through proxies.” Yet Iran is actively destabilizing Lebanon, Yemen, Bahrain, and many other Middle Eastern countries.

Rouhani promises “constructive engagement with other countries.” Yet two years ago, Iranian agents tried to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s ambassador in Washington, D.C.

And just three weeks ago, an Iranian agent was arrested trying to collect information for possible attacks against the American Embassy in Tel Aviv. Some constructive engagement!

I wish I could be moved by Rouhani’s invitation to join his “WAVE” — a world against violence and extremism. Yet the only waves Iran has generated in the last 30 years are waves of violence and terrorism that it has unleashed on the region and across the world.

Ladies and gentlemen, I wish I could believe Rouhani, but I don’t, because facts are stubborn things. And the facts are that Iran’s savage record flatly contradicts Rouhani’s soothing rhetoric.

Last Friday, Rouhani assured us that in pursuit of its nuclear program, Iran has “never chosen deceit … and secrecy.” Never chosen deceit and secrecy?!

Well, in 2002, Iran was caught red-handed secretly building an underground centrifuge facility at Natanz. Then in 2009, Iran was again caught red-handed secretly building a huge underground nuclear facility for uranium enrichment in a mountain near Qom.

Rouhani tells us not to worry; he assures us that all this is not intended for nuclear weapons. Do any of you believe that? If you believe that, here are a few questions that you might want to ask:

Why would a country that claims to only want peaceful nuclear energy, why would such a country build hidden underground enrichment facilities?

Why would a country with vast natural energy reserves invest billions in developing nuclear energy?

Why would a country intent on merely civilian nuclear programs continue to defy multiple Security Council resolutions and incur the costs of crippling sanctions on its economy?

And why would a country with a peaceful nuclear program develop intercontinental ballistic missiles whose sole purpose is to deliver nuclear warheads? You don’t build ICBMs to carry TNT thousands of miles away. You build them for one purpose — to carry nuclear warheads. And Iran is now building ICBMs that the United States says can reach this city in three or four years.

Why would they do all this? The answer is simple. Iran is not building a peaceful nuclear program. Iran is developing nuclear weapons.

Last year alone, Iran enriched three tons of uranium to 3.5%, doubled its stockpile of 20% enriched uranium, and added thousands of new centrifuges, including advanced centrifuges. It also continued work on the heavy water reactor in Arak. That’s in order to have another route to the bomb — a plutonium path.

And since Rouhani’s election — and I stress this — this vast and feverish effort has continued unabated.

Ladies and gentlemen: underground nuclear facilities?

Heavy water reactors?

Advanced centrifuges?


It’s not that it’s hard to find evidence that Iran has a nuclear weapons program. It’s hard to find evidence that Iran doesn’t have a nuclear weapons program.

Last year when I spoke here at the U.N., I drew a red line. Iran has been very careful not to cross that line. But Iran is positioning itself to race across that line in the future at a time of its choosing. Iran wants to be in a position to rush forward to build nuclear bombs before the international community can detect it, much less prevent it.

Yet Iran faces one big problem, and that problem is summed up in one word: sanctions.

I have argued for many years, including on this podium, that the only way to peacefully prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons is to combine tough sanctions with a credible military threat. And that policy is today bearing fruit. Thanks to the effort of many countries, many represented here, and under the leadership of the United States, tough sanctions have taken a big bite out of Iran’s economy. Oil revenues have fallen. The currency has plummeted. Banks are hard pressed to transfer money.

So as a result, the regime is under intense pressure from the Iranian people to get the sanctions removed. That’s why Rouhani got elected in the first place. That’s why he launched his charm offensive.

He definitely wants to get the sanctions lifted, I guarantee you that, but he doesn’t want to give up Iran’s nuclear weapons program in return.

Now, here’s the strategy to achieve this:

First, smile a lot. Smiling never hurts. Second, pay lip service to peace, democracy and tolerance. Third, offer meaningless concessions in exchange for lifting sanctions. And fourth, and the most important, ensure that Iran retains sufficient nuclear material and sufficient nuclear infrastructure to race to the bomb at a time that it chooses to do so. You know why Rouhani thinks he can get away with this? I mean, this is a ruse, it’s a ploy. Why does Rouhani think he can get away with it? Because he’s gotten away with it before. Because his strategy of talking a lot and doing little has worked for him in the past. He even bragged about it. Here’s what he said in his 2011 book about his time as Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator: “While we were talking to the Europeans in Tehran, we were installing equipment in Isfahan.”

For those of you who don’t know, the Isfahan facility is an indispensable part of Iran’s nuclear weapons program. That’s where uranium ore called yellowcake is converted into an enrichable form. Rouhani boasted, and I quote: “By creating a calm environment, we were able to complete the work in Isfahan.”

He fooled the world once. Now he thinks he can fool it again. You see, Rouhani thinks he can have his yellowcake and eat it too.

And he has another reason to believe that he can get away with this, and that reason is called North Korea.

Like Iran, North Korea also said its nuclear program was for peaceful purposes. Like Iran, North Korea also offered meaningless concessions and empty promises in return for sanctions relief. In 2005, North Korea agreed to a deal that was celebrated the world over by many well-meaning people. Here is what The New York Times editorial had to say about it: “For years now, foreign policy insiders have pointed to North Korea as the ultimate nightmare … a closed, hostile and paranoid dictatorship with an aggressive nuclear weapons program. Very few could envision a successful outcome. And yet North Korea agreed in principle this week to dismantle its nuclear weapons program, return to the NPT, abide by the treaty’s safeguards and admit international inspectors. … Diplomacy, it seems, does work after all.”

End quote.

Ladies and gentlemen, a year later, North Korea exploded its first nuclear weapons device.

Yet as dangerous as a nuclear-armed North Korea is, it pales in comparison to the danger of a nuclear-armed Iran. A nuclear-armed Iran would have a chokehold on the world’s main energy supplies. It would trigger nuclear proliferation throughout the Middle East, turning the most unstable part of the planet into a nuclear tinderbox. And for the first time in history, it would make the specter of nuclear terrorism a clear and present danger.

A nuclear-armed Iran in the Middle East wouldn’t be another North Korea. It would be another 50 North Koreas!

I know that some in the international community think I’m exaggerating this threat. Sure, they know that Iran’s regime leads the chants of “Death to America!” and “Death to Israel!”, that it pledges to wipe Israel off the map. But they think this wild rhetoric is just bluster for domestic consumption. Have these people learned nothing from history?

The last century has taught us that when a radical regime with global ambitions gets awesome power, sooner or later, its appetite for aggression knows no bounds. That’s the central lesson of the 20th century. Now, we cannot forget it.

The world may have forgotten this lesson. The Jewish people have not.

Iran’s fanaticism is not bluster. It’s real. This fanatic regime must never be allowed to arm itself with nuclear weapons.

I know that the world is weary of war. We in Israel, we know all too well the cost of war. But history has taught us that to prevent war tomorrow, we must be firm today.

This raises the question: Can diplomacy stop this threat?

Well, the only diplomatic solution that would work is one that fully dismantles Iran’s nuclear weapons program and prevents it from having one in the future. President Obama rightly said that Iran’s conciliatory words must be matched by transparent, verifiable and meaningful action, and to be meaningful, a diplomatic solution would require Iran to do four things. First, cease all uranium enrichment. This is called for by several Security Council resolutions. Second, remove from its territory the stockpiles of enriched uranium. Third, dismantle the infrastructure for a nuclear breakout capability, including the underground facility near Qom and the advanced centrifuges in Natanz. And fourth, stop all work at the heavy water reactor in Arak aimed at the production of plutonium.

These steps would put an end to Iran’s nuclear weapons program and eliminate its breakout capability. There are those who would readily agree to leave Iran with a residual capability to enrich uranium. I advise them to pay close attention to what Rouhani said in a speech to Iran’s Supreme Cultural Revolutionary Council. This was published in 2005: “A country that can enrich uranium to about 3.5% will also have the capability to enrich it to about 90%. Having fuel cycle capability virtually means that a country that possesses this capability is able to produce nuclear weapons.”

Precisely. This is precisely why Iran’s nuclear weapons program must be fully and verifiably dismantled. And this is why the pressure on Iran must continue.

So here’s what the international community must do. First, keep up the sanctions. If Iran advances its nuclear weapons program during negotiations, strengthen the sanctions.

Second, don’t agree to a partial deal. A partial deal would lift international sanctions that have taken years to put in place in exchange for cosmetic concessions that will take only weeks for Iran to reverse. Third, lift the sanctions only when Iran fully dismantles its nuclear weapons program.

My friends, the international community has Iran on the ropes. If you want to knock out Iran’s nuclear weapons program peacefully, don’t let up the pressure. Keep it up.

We all want to give diplomacy with Iran a chance to succeed. But when it comes to Iran, the greater the pressure, the greater the chance.

Three decades ago, President Ronald Reagan famously advised: Trust but verify. When it comes to Iran’s nuclear weapons program, here’s my advice: Distrust, dismantle, and verify.

Ladies and gentlemen, Israel will never acquiesce to nuclear arms in the hands of a rogue regime that repeatedly promises to wipe us off the map. Against such a threat, Israel will have no choice but to defend itself. I want there to be no confusion on this point: Israel will not allow Iran to get nuclear weapons. If Israel is forced to stand alone, Israel will stand alone. Yet in standing alone, Israel will know that we will be defending many, many others. The dangers of a nuclear-armed Iran and the emergence of other threats in our region have led many of our Arab neighbors to finally recognize that Israel is not their enemy. This affords us the opportunity to overcome historic animosities and build new relationships, new friendships, new hopes. Israel welcomes engagement with the wider Arab world. We hope that our common interests and common challenges will help us forge a more peaceful future.

And Israel continues to seek a historic peace with our Palestinian neighbors, one that ends our conflict once and for all. We want a peace based on security and mutual recognition in which a demilitarized Palestinian state recognizes the Jewish state of Israel. I remain committed to achieving a historic conciliation and building a better future for Israelis and Palestinians alike.

Now, I have no illusions about how difficult this will be to achieve. Twenty years ago, the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians began. Six Israeli prime ministers, myself included, have not succeeded in achieving peace with the Palestinians. My predecessors were prepared to make painful concessions. So am I.

But so far, Palestinian leaders haven’t been prepared to offer the painful concessions they must make to end the conflict. For peace to be achieved, the Palestinians must finally recognize the Jewish state and Israel’s security needs must be met. I am prepared to make an historic compromise for a genuine and enduring peace. But I will never compromise on the security of my people and of my country of the one and only Jewish state.

Ladies and gentlemen, one cold day in the late 19th century, my grandfather Nathan and his younger brother Judah were standing in a railway station in the heart of Europe. They were seen by a group of anti-Semitic hoodlums who ran towards them waving clubs, screaming, “Death to the Jews!”

My grandfather shouted to his younger brother to flee and save himself. And he then stood alone against the raging mob to slow it down. They beat him senseless. They left him for dead. Before he passed out, covered in his own blood, he said to himself: “What a disgrace! What a disgrace! The descendants of the Maccabees lie in the mud, powerless to defend themselves.”

He promised himself then that if he lived, he would take his family to the Jewish homeland to help build a future for the Jewish people. I stand here today as Israel’s prime minister because my grandfather kept that promise.

So many other Israelis have a similar story: a parent or a grandparent who fled every conceivable oppression, and came to Israel to start a new life in our ancient homeland.

Together, we’ve transformed a bludgeoned Jewish people left for dead into a vibrant, thriving nation, defending itself with the courage of modern Maccabees, developing limitless possibilities for the future.

In our time, the biblical prophecies have been realized. As the prophet Amos said:

They shall rebuild ruined cities and inhabit them,

They shall plant vineyards and drink their wine,

They shall till gardens and eat their fruit.

And I will plant them upon their soil, never to be uprooted again.

Ladies and gentlemen, the people of Israel have come home, never to be uprooted again.

Obama put the brakes on Hollande’s Syria attack

Obama reportedly halts Franco-American military action in Syria at the last minute • French President François Hollande allegedly “shocked” at orders to cancel strike mere hours before French fighter jets were set to take off • France: Window of opportunity closing.


French President François Hollande cancelled an airstrike against Syrian targets scheduled for Aug. 31 at the last minute following a phone call from U.S. President Barack Obama, the French weekly magazine Le Nouvel Observateur reported on Sunday.

According to the report, Hollande was “shocked” when Obama informed him that he intends to seek Congress’ approval for the strike and requested he cancel the military campaign only a few hours before French jets were set to take off. The mission was allegedly planned by the French and U.S. presidents immediately following the Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack on rebel-held suburbs east of Damascus, the magazine reported.

According to the report, the French government had already prepared a statement announcing the French strike in Syria, something that French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius had apparently been told to do by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, as per a French official’s statement. “Everything led us to believe that the big day had arrived,” a French official told the magazine.

The French newspaper further reported that with the opening of the U.N. General Assembly in New York, France may have missed its ideal window of opportunity for military action in Syria.

Meanwhile, United Nations inspectors are set to meet Tuesday with representatives from the Syrian foreign ministry to coordinate the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon met for the first time with the leadership of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces on Saturday in an a attempt to organize a peace conference on the Syrian conflict for November, as a follow up to last year’s Geneva peace conference.

Syrian President Bashar Assad said in an interview with an Italian TV station that there is “no reason” that Syria will  not adhere to the Security Council decision to destroy its chemical weapons. He added that his country is committed to providing security to the U.N. inspectors who will arrive in Syria on Tuesday to begin inspecting the facilities used to store chemical weapons.