In one of his most fierce speeches on the Iranian nuclear threat, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu reiterated his commitment to Israel’s security, hinting that he would launch an attack on Iran even without American approval.
Speaking during a discussion in the Knesset, Netanyahu spoke of his recent visit to the United States and his meeting with President Barack Obama and said, “We have the right and obligation to be responsible for our fate. Israel has never left its fate to others, not even in the hands of its best friends. This is an obligation which is imposed on me as prime minister of Israel.”
He compared the decisions he will need to make to those made by former Prime Minister Menachem Begin, who decided to attack Iraq's nuclear reactor in 1981.
“[Begin] was led by his duty when he was well aware of the international criticism, including from the United States, our friend,” said Netanyahu. “He carried out his duty and acted. In time it became clear that our relations with the United States not only were not damaged but rather became stronger.”
However, Netanyahu made it clear that “we prefer that Iran abandon its nuclear program peacefully. The obligation which is imposed on me is to maintain Israel's ability to defend itself against any challenge.”
The prime minister also referred to recent events in the south, following the launching of over 200 rockets over four days by terrorists, and said that despite the success of the Iron Dome anti-missile system, it does not provide a full response to the rocket threat.
“There is no hermetic protection and there never will be,” said Netanyahu. “The combination of the power of attack and the capacity of national strength is a winner and it should be fostered.”
He added, “Gaza has become a base for Iran. The Kadima party and the disengagement put Iran into Gaza, and we will pull Iran out of Gaza. Every place we left, Iran entered. Lebanon, Gaza, there are those who offer to withdraw from Judea and Samaria - Iran will enter there as well. We warned that a unilateral withdrawal from Gaza will lead to exactly these results. We must not agree to it over a long period of time. At the end of the day, Israel will not tolerate an Iranian terrorist base in Gaza, and sooner or later this base will be uprooted.”
Referring to the deadlock in negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, Netanyahu said, “There are many reasons to reach an agreement with the Palestinians - because we want peace and quiet and because I do not want a bi-national state.
“However, to think that an agreement with [PA Chairman] Abbas will stop Iran and its proxies is a dangerous illusion, and some people here excel in illusions,” he added, hinting at some members of the opposition who were present.
Meanwhile on Wednesday, Obama warned Iran that the diplomatic window for dealing with its nuclear program is "shrinking."
Obama said he still preferred a diplomatic track for getting Iran to abandon its nuclear program, but added that "requires someone on the other side of the table who is taking the matter seriously."
He added that he hoped Iran understands that diplomacy is their "best bet" and the Islamic regime "needs to seize that opportunity.”