Netanyahu warns Israel not bound by 2015 Iranian nuke deal

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday that Israel is not bound by the 2015 agreement, signed between Iran and six world powers including the US, to curb Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief, and warned that Jerusalem will insure that Iran does not attain nuclear weapons.

“We will not allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons and this [2015 nuclear] agreement does not bind us,” Netanyahu said during a speech at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center for an event marking 40 years since Begin led the Likud party to victory in 1977, ending almost 30 years of left-leaning led politics.

In his address, Netanyahu also warned that Israel will “retaliate” against “those who attack or try to attack us.”

“Those who threaten our existence put themselves at existential risk,” he promised.

“When it comes to Israel’s security, there are no compromises and in the face of the threats posed by radical Islam, we are honing defensive and offensive abilities, thus ensuring our existence,” said the prime minister, adding that radical Islam threatened the world, not just Israel.

File: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, left, awards Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif with the Medal of Honor for his role in the implementation of a nuclear deal with world powers, on February 8, 2016, in Tehran. (AFP / ATTA KENARE)

These were familiar words from the prime minister who over the years has repeatedly said that Israel would consider all options, including the military option, in the face of an Iran advancing toward nuclear capability. Netanyahu has always strongly opposed the nuclear agreement signed two years ago with Iran, and on numerous occasions before and after it was concluded clashed publicly with the Obama administration over the accord.

The Israeli leader has said that the agreement poses a threat to Israel’s existence and paves Iran’s path to the bomb.

Iran has long backed armed groups committed to Israel’s destruction and its leaders have called for the Jewish state to be wiped off the map.

Israel has also been closely watching Iran’s activities in neighboring Syria, where Tehran is heavily invested in the civil war, and has vowed to not let it open a new front against Israel in the Golan Heights. Israel has also vowed to prevent advanced weaponry from Iran from reaching Lebanese terror group and Iranian proxy Hezbollah, and several airstrikes in recent years on weapons convoys were attributed to Israel.

US President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu speak at joint news conference in the White House February 15, 2017, (Screen capture: YouTube)

Since Donald Trump’s upset victory in last’s years presidential elections, Netanyahu has pinned his hopes on the new administration when it comes to facing down Iran. In contrast to Obama, Trump has repeatedly castigated the “disastrous” nuclear deal, although stopping short since taking office of indicating whether the US would scrap it.

Earlier this year, on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Netanyahu predicted that the world’s silence in the face of the Islamic Republic’s threats to annihilate the Jewish state would end with Trump in office.

Late last month, on Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day, Trump delivered a speech to Jewish leaders in which he warned, without naming Iran, that threats by a “regime that talks openly of Israel’s destruction” should never be ignored.

“We must not ignore the threats of a regime that talks openly of Israel’s destruction. We cannot let that ever even be thought of,” Trump said at the time.

In his address Thursday, Netanyahu also spoke about the resolution passed by UNESCO earlier this week denying Israeli claims to Jerusalem, and predicted that attitudes toward Israel at the UN would “change within a decade.”

Netanyahu on Tuesday derided the resolution approved that day as “absurd” but at the same time lauded what he described as increased global support for the Jewish state in international forums. “Enough,” he declared. “The theater of the absurd when it comes to Israel has to stop.”

Israel’s many strengths, said Netanyahu Thursday, are enabling the country to build closer relations with numerous international players.

He added that this was reflected in the UNESCO vote, where some countries that might previously have supported this kind of resolution either abstained or opposed it.

“If we continue working on our foreign relations, we will see a [positive] change within a decade, and more and more countries will support Israel,” he predicted.

Submitted to UNESCO’s Executive Board by Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar and Sudan, the resolution on “Occupied Palestine” referred to Israel as the “occupying power” when discussing Jerusalem, indicating that it has no legal or historical ties to any part of the city.

The resolution passed with 22 votes in favor, 23 abstentions, 10 opposed, and representatives of three countries absent.

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