Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
is trying to "sabotage the best chance" to restore relations between the West and Iran, the New York Times is claiming in an editorial following Netanyahu's General Assembly address.
"Netanyahu has legitimate reasons to be wary of any Iranian overtures.. but it could be disastrous if he and his supporters in Congress were so blinded by distrust of Iran
that they exaggerate the threat, block President Obama from taking advantage of new diplomatic openings and sabotage the best chance to establish a new relationship since the 1979 Iranian revolution sent American-Iranian relations into the deep freeze," the editorial stated.
The paper conceded that Iran hid its nuclear program from United Nations inspectors for nearly 20 years, despite President Hassan Rohani's claims that it is for peaceful purposes. "These facts make it hard not to view the upcoming American-brokered negotiations skeptically," it noted.
|'Toughen sanction.' Netanyahu at UNGA|
"But Mr. Netanyahu has hinted so often of taking military action to keep Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon that he seems eager for a fight. He did it again at the United Nations on Tuesday, warning that Israel
reserved the right to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities if it deemed that Iran was close to producing nuclear weapons. "
Addressing the General Assembly on Tuesday, Netanyahu countered Rohani's "charm offensive" by calling him a "wolf in sheep's clothing" and urged the international community not to ease sanctions on Iran until it dismantles its nuclear program. In a jab at the New York Times, he noted that the paper had praised the diplomacy that produced a 1994 agreement between the US and North Korea to freeze and replace its nuclear program, noting that only a year later Pyongyang held a missile test.
|'Rohani - wolf in sheep's clothing.' PM at UNGA|
The NYT retorted, saying: "Both Mr. Obama and Mr. Rohani have hard-line domestic audiences and allies that they will need to consider and cajole as they undertake this effort to resolve the nuclear dispute and develop a new relationship. For Mr. Obama, that means working closely with Israel and helping Mr. Netanyahu see that sabotaging diplomacy, especially before Iran is tested, only makes having to use force more likely. That would be the worst result of all."
Netanyahu also came under fire by former White House press secretary Robert Gibs, who said the speech was typical of Netanyahu and was directed at the domestic audience in Israel. In an interview with MSNBC he said, "I don't think Israel helps itself in some of the rhetoric that you heard from the prime minister, particularly the notion that the world may have forgotten the 20th Century.
"I don't think that's the case. I don't think that the imagery that Israel will stand alone is the case. Obama has no intention of letting the Iranians off the hook. I don't think Prime Minister Netanyahu does himself a huge amount of good with that speech," he said.
British journalist Robert Fisk did not spare criticism either. In an op-ed at the The Independent, he wrote: "These are hard times for the Israeli right. Used to bullying the US – and especially its present, shallow leader – the Likud
ists suddenly find that the whole world wants peace in the Middle East rather than war."
Fisk claims Netanyahu "did a little groveling" at the UN, no longer calling "for a total end to all Iranian nuclear activities" but rather demanding a shut down only of Iran’s “military nuclear program."
"What we do know is that when Mr. Rohani started saying all the things we had been demanding that Iran should say for years, Israel went bananas.
"Mr Netanyahu condemned him before he had even said a word." Fisk had criticism of Obama as well, claiming he did not go far enough in overtures to Rohani, calling the phone call with Rohani "pathetic" and that a hand shake would have been more appropriate.
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