UNITED NATIONS, New York:: Israel’s prime minister savaged the nuclear deal with Iran, falling silent for nearly a minute at the United Nations Thursday in protest and offering to resume direct peace talks with the Palestinians.
Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the General Assembly as he seeks to repair ties with President Barack Obama, damaged by the Iran deal and the Israeli leader’s rejection, while seeking re-election, of a two-state solution with the Palestinians, angering the White House.
Not long after he spoke, Palestinians shot dead two Israelis in a vehicle between two Jewish settlements near the Palestinian city of Nablus in the occupied West Bank, an Israeli security source said.
Netanyahu held up a book by Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, calling it a detailed plan for the destruction of Israel, and saying that he had vowed Israel would not exist in 25 years’ time.
“Seventy years after the murder of six million Jews, Iran’s rulers promise to destroy my country, murder my people, and the response from this body, the response from nearly every one of the governments represented here has been absolutely nothing,” he said.
“Utter silence. Deafening silence,” added Netanyahu, before falling silent for 45 seconds from the rostrum.
He glared pointedly at the vast General Assembly chamber, from which not a sound could be heard, until he resumed speaking.
“Perhaps you can understand why Israel is not joining you in celebrating this deal,” he said.
Obama and European governments have championed the Iran deal as the best way of preventing Tehran from getting a nuclear weapon, but Netanyahu and many in the Republican Party are bitterly opposed to it.