WASHINGTON – A day after US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry outlined a possible accord between Israel
and the Palestinians, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
responded to the remarks in a video broadcast to the Saban Center for Middle East Policy conference.
Netanyahu stressed that "Israel and the United States form an indispensible alliance," noting cooperation on diplomacy and thanked the Obama administration for its intense mediation efforts. However, he insisted Israel must have all the tools to "protect itself, by itself" in case any accord with the Palestinians unravels.
The prime minister noted he was ready for a "historic compromise" in the negotiations with the Palestinians and expressed hope that a viable accord would be reached.
|Netanyahu speaks at Saban Forum, Sunday|
He nontheless noted that any agreement with the Palestinians will likely initially result in a "cold peace."
Addressing the issue of nuclear Iran, Netanyahu said "The world must not allow Iran
to be a threshold nuclear State... For diplomacy to succeed it must be coupled with powerful sanctions and a military option."
He added that Iran must not only halt its nuclear program, but rather ""to change its genocidal policy."
Cautioning the international community to "beware" of Iran's intentions, Netanyahu underscored his deep skepticism over an interim deal reached with Iran last month in Geneva and insisted that any long-term accord must bring about the "termination of Iran's military nuclear capability."
"This is a regime committed to our destruction and I believe there must be an unequivocal demand to change its genocidal policy," Netanyahu told a largely pro-Israel audience. "That is the minimal thing that the international community must do when it is negotiating with Iran."
Netanyahu accused Iran of supplying thousands of rockets to anti-Israel Islamist groups he called Tehran's "terrorist proxies," including Hezbollah
and Islamic Jihad
He cited a recent comment by Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei calling Israel the "rabid dog" of the Middle East.
On Saturday, US President Barack Obama said at the Saban Forum, regarding the issue of nuclear Iran: "What we do have to test is the possibility that we can resolve this issue diplomatically."
Reuters, AP contributed to this report
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