“We can’t let the Iranian regime play this game,” warns Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “They play for time. They continue to enrich. They broaden the base of their nuclear program.”
Netanyahu says he is concerned that “Iran is seeking is not one or two bombs but 200 bombs.” But that is not a source of worry only for Iran’s immediate neighbors, says the combative prime minister: “They’re building ICBMs (intercontinental ballistic missiles) parallel to developing their nuclear weapons program. The ICBMs are not intended for us; they’re intended for you. Within six to eight years, they intend to be able to reach the continental United States.”
In an interview with The Washington Post’s Lally Weymouth on Thursday in Jerusalem, Netanyahu was asked if his conditions—total cessation of nuclear enrichment in, and the removal of all enriched material from Iran, are today greater than before, and does he have a timetable for military action against Iran.
“These aren’t my conditions,” Netanyahu answered. “They are the demands of the UN Security Council. And they’re minimal demands — that Iran remove all enriched nuclear material, that they stop all enrichment and that they shut down the illicit nuclear facility in Qom. I think they should be held to this. It’s an acid test of whether they are serious. We shouldn’t put style over substance.”
Regarding the new elections in Iran, which yielded a moderate new president, albeit one that had been pre-approved by that country’s “supreme leader,” Netanyahu said, “I think the elections reflect a deep dissatisfaction of the Iranian people with its regime. Unfortunately, this result doesn’t have the power to change Iran’s nuclear ambitions.”
Netanyahu said the new president, Hassan Rouhani, wrote the book on the doctrine of “talk and enrich,” meaning that he was keeping the West entangled in endless negotiations over his country’s nuclear program, while the plants continued to churn out weapons grade, enriched nuclear material.
The prime minister accused Iran of sponsoring “worldwide terror across 30 countries. They and their proxy, Hezbollah, engage in terror attacks. They were just uncovered in Nigeria and before that in Bulgaria.”
According to Netanyahu, Hezbollah doesn’t just “specialize” in killing Israelis. “That’s their number-one target,” he said, “but they have no qualms about killing others. They wanted to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in downtown Washington. They’re violating every norm. They kill American soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq. They’ve sent their proxies into Lebanon and basically extinguished the light of freedom and progress in that country. They’ve put their henchmen in Gaza, and they supply them with tens of thousands of rockets to hit our civilians. This is a regime that must not be allowed to have the weapons to control the oil markets of the Middle East and to ignite a nuclear arms race.”
Regarding the intense efforts by Secretary of State John Kerry to revive the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, Netanyahu said: “I think we should stop negotiating about the negotiations. I think we should just get on with it… We should enter immediately into negotiations without preconditions.”
This was, of course, before news broke out that the brand new Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority, Rami Hamdallah, has resigned.
“You think the real reason this conflict hasn’t been solved is . . .?” Weymouth asked.
“The real reason is the persistent refusal to recognize a sovereign Jewish state in any boundary,” said Netanyahu. “That was and remains the core of this conflict. To solve this, the Palestinians will have to recognize the Jewish state just as we recognize a Palestinian state.”
He then sang the 2-state solution anthem obediently, like every prime minister before him, since 1994: “The reason we have to resolve it is that we don’t want a bi-national state. I don’t want a bi-national state. I want a state for the Jewish people alongside a state for the Palestinian people.”