Netanyahu pledges fitting response to Ahmadinejad speech
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu left hours after Yom Kippur Wednesday night for New York to address the UN, pledging to give a fitting response to Iran’s desire to “sentence us to death.”
In an unusual letter to the Israeli public before leaving for the US, Netanyahu wrote that history showed that those who desired to wipe the Jewish people “off the map” failed, while the Jewish people persevered and overcame all obstacles.
Netanyahu – referring toIranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s speech to the UN on Wednesday – said that while “we prayed to be inscribed in the Book of Life, a platform was given to a dictatorial regime in Iran that strives, at every opportunity, to sentence us to death.”
“This is a bad day for those who chose to stay in the hall and listen to these words of slander,” Netanyahu said of Ahmadinejad’s speech to the UN Wednesday.
Only the Israeli, Canadian and US delegations absented themselves from the hall during his speech. Israel’s delegation was not present in any event at the UN meeting Wednesday because of Yom Kippur.
Netanyahu wrote that on the day before Yom Kippur, Ahmadinejad – in comments to the US media – said Israel would be eliminated.
“As the prime minister of Israel, the state of the Jewish people, I am working in every way so that Iran will not have nuclear weapons,” he wrote, one of the few times he has penned an open letter to the public.
The themes Netanyahu touched upon in his letter are expected to be woven into his speech that, according to sources in his office, will focus on Iran, even though Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will deliver his speech to the UN’s General Assembly some 15 minutes prior to Netanyahu and is expected to call for the UN to admit “Palestine” as a non-member observer state in the General Assembly.
While Netanyahu, who is known to change his speeches up to the last minute, is likely to make reference to the Palestinians, his address will be dominated by the threat of a nuclear Iran.
Netanyahu has been working on the speech over the past few days with his senior adviser Ron Dermer. According to one official in the Prime Minister’s Office, Netanyahu is expected to go further than he has in the past in spellingout dangers posed by Iran and what needs to be done to stop the Islamic Republic, including stepping up sanctions and drawing red lines.
He is also expected to express “outrage over the lack of outrage” when countries listen quietly and politely to Ahmadinejad’s anti- Semitic rants.
Netanyahu is expected to arrive in New York Thursday at 8 a.m., and give his speech at the UN five hours later.
This will be his third address to the UN since becoming prime minister for the second time in 2009. His speech to the world body that year also was dominated by the Iranian threat and Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust denial. His address last year focused on the Palestinian bid for statehood recognition in the UN.
Since Netanyahu will be leaving New York immediately after Shabbat on Saturday night to get back to Israel in time for Succot, which begins on Sunday evening, he will only have about 24-working hours during the trip.
In addition to addressing the world body, he is also scheduled to meet with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton. The prime minister will also be giving a number of television interviews to US networks.
Netanyahu will be accompanied on the trip by Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, who will be staying on longer in New York to hold meetings.
Liberman has scheduled a long line of meetings, including with the prime minister of Ethiopia and numerous foreign ministers, including his counterparts from France, Russia, Spain, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Argentina, Panama, South Sudan and Kenya.