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Netanyahu: Iran Will Wreak Havoc on Middle East

Following meeting with Italian PM Enrico Letta, Netanyahu says stopping Iran, not peace with PA, key to Middle East calm.
By Tova Dvorin
First Publish: 12/2/2013, 9:58 PM

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu with Italian PM Enrico Letta, December 2013
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu with Italian PM Enrico Letta, December 2013
Flash90

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's office released a statement following his meetings with Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta Monday. The statement addresses key issues including peace talks with the Palestinian Authority and a nuclear Iran. 

"We want peace, we pray for peace, we are working for peace. We hope that we have a partner for peace on the other side," Netanyahu said, referring to the Palestinian Authority. "In addition to political decisions that we have to accept, we want to ensure that there is a solid foundation of peace and security that we want to reach with the Palestinians. We want peace like this for ourselves and for our children." 

"But such a peace will not change what happens in the Middle East significantly," Netanyahu continued, firing back at criticism that Israel's talks with the Palestinians, which many have seen as a failure, are the key to peace across the entire Middle East.

"The great turmoil that we see in Syria is not related to Israel and the Palestinians. The great turmoil we see in Libya is not related to Israel and the Palestinians. The great turmoil we see in Iraq is not related to Israel and the Palestinians. The great turmoil we see in Yemen, Egypt and other places not related to Israel and the Palestinians," he declared. 

"Unfortunately, the broader question of [what will bring peace to the] Middle East remains open except for one question," he continued. "If we add the instability of Iran's deal regarding its nuclear program into the Middle-East reactor, what will happen?" Netanyahu asserts that continued neglect of the full ramifications of the deal between Iran and Western powers provides the answer: chaos. 

"I have spoken before about the power of modernity, prosperity, and progress - which in our case can lead to a better future for all of us," Netanyahu stated. "But there is a counter-force that rejects modernity, rejects pluralism, rejects science, rejects technology and wants to throw us back [. . .] [to] the darkness of the Middle Ages." 

"The regime in Iran may be all smiles, but it continues to massacre people in Syria and promote terrorism across five continents and in five groups such as Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and Hamas," he stated, "and certainly wants to turn back the clock on the world that we love." 

"So if at the center of this chaos, Iran will be armed with nuclear weapons, it will create a historical timeline that not only will turn back progress in the Middle East - in all Middle East - but would endanger world peace, peace in Europe, and peace over the entire planet." Netanyahu emphasized that Iran "must be stopped." 

This is not the first time Netanyahu has juxtaposed the Islamic Republic with midievalism. Last month, he compared radical Islam to the Dark Ages, and Israel to modernity, in a speech at an Israeli-French technology conference. 

The Prime Minister also lamented the futlity of progress in the deal's aftermath. "Amazing work was done during the last decade to put strong, harsh sanctions on Iran - which seemed to work," he stated. "They were so close to achieving their goals - that Iran would scale back its nuclear program."

"Now, sanctions have been eased, and even though Iran has not begun to implement the agreement, this relief has led to the liberation of rules of sanctions" and made Iran "legitimate," Netanyahu declared. "As though Iran has changed something in its policies but smile, speak in English every now and then produce a PowerPoint presentation," to look more Western. "What a revolution!"

More seriously, the Prime Minister urged that "if this situation continues and the sanctions regime will collapse, it shall mark the end of the possibility of a peaceful solution to stopping Iran's nuclear program."

He stressed that Israel is seeking other diplomatic means of placing pressure on Iran and that Israel "refuses to be satisfied with a political solution." 

The Prime Minister concluded that for Israel, the current arrangement does not pass muster. "We need substance, and when I say 'we' I mean only to we - Israel - I am including a large number of Arab countries in the Middle East." Netanyahu referred to the unique relationship that is developing between Israel and the Gulf States, as well as other Arab nations, which have reportedly been in contact regarding preventing a nuclear Iran.  

"I know they do not always talk out loud like us but believe me: Israelis and Arabs speak with one voice that the world should listen to," he continued. "It is important to many here in Europe and beyond Europe to see real change, to see a true scaling down of the military presence and nuclear program in Iran because as it approaches nuclear weapons capability, it approaches a new axis in history."  

Netanyahu vowed not to let that happen. "Eventually, progress - and the scientific revolution - will win." 

The Prime Minister's speech follows a continued push by Economics Minister Naftali Bennett to appeal to the American media Monday, as he spoke in an interview with FOX News about the dangers of the interim deal.

In the interview, Bennett stressed that the Iranian threat includes not only the fact that Iran is building weapons against Israel, but also against the entire world - including North America - and related to Sunday's announcement that Iran will be building a second nuclear reactor in Bushehr. 

"Israel has the ability to defend itself" if the threats are realized, said Bennett, "and it will defend itself." 

In the meantime, however, Bennett stressed that Israel is seeking to find solutions by focusing on what will happen in six months, when the interim agreement runs out. 

Both speeches also come at a critical time, following reports that Iran and the P5+1 powers behind the deal may be slated to meet next week to discuss the deal's implementation. Iranian officials are also set to meet with IAEA officials in Vienna on December 9 and 10, according to Iranian news agencies. 

A brief clip of Netanyahu meeting Letta Monday has been released by the Prime Minister's office, and is available below.