Netanyahu at UN: danger, opportunity ahead
Last week at the United Nations, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas once again accused Israel of heinous crimes, including “genocide.” And, once again, the global community demonstrated its collective gullibility. It was left to Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu Monday to stand at the same lectern before the UN General Assembly and deliver what has become an annual rebuttal to the most preposterous allegations against the Jewish state.
It was not a cheery speech, but nor was it all doom and gloom. In that half-empty assembly hall – many delegates, apparently, cannot even bear to listen to the words of an Israeli leader – Netanyahu took on one accusation after another.
“I’ve come here to expose the brazen lies spoken from this very podium against my country and against the brave soldiers who defend it,” he said, holding up the Israel Defence Forces as representative of “the highest moral values of any army in the world” and insisting that “Israel’s soldiers deserve not condemnation, but admiration … from decent people everywhere.”
He slammed the UN’s Human Rights Council, which he declared an oxymoron.
“By investigating Israel, rather than Hamas, for war crimes, the UN Human Rights Council has betrayed its noble mission to protect the innocent,” the prime minister said. “In fact, what it’s doing is to turn the laws of war upside-down. Israel, which took unprecedented steps to minimize civilian casualties – Israel is condemned. Hamas, which both targeted and hid behind civilians – that, a double war crime – Hamas is given a pass. The Human Rights Council is thus sending a clear message to terrorists everywhere: use civilians as human shields. Use them again and again and again. And you know why? Because, sadly, it works.”
Then he turned his sights toward Iran’s nuclear ambitions. He warned that, while Iran may have softened its tone, its aim is the same as that of ISIS, Hamas and other militant Islamists – world domination.
These common dangers – “a nuclear-armed Iran and militant Islamist movements gaining ground” – provide an opening for peace between Israel and its neighbors. And not only militarily, but also in terms of regional development.
“Together we can strengthen regional security,” said Netanyahu. “We can advance projects in water, agriculture, in transportation, in health, in energy, in so many fields.
“I believe the partnership between us can also help facilitate peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Many have long assumed that an Israeli-Palestinian peace can help facilitate a broader rapprochement between Israel and the Arab world. But, these days, I think it may work the other way around: namely, that a broader rapprochement between Israel and the Arab world may help facilitate an Israeli-Palestinian peace.”
If Israel’s prime minister can talk about the potential for “new opportunities” in the Middle East alongside the dangers, and of “the indispensable role of Arab states in advancing peace with the Palestinians,” perhaps it’s not so naïve to remain hopeful.