Netanyahu Calls UN 'Moral Farce,' Says Israel Will Not Accept Any Dictates

Netanyahu, at UN address, says Israel welcomes the 'spirit' of the Arab Peace Initiative, thanks Obama for vetoing past Security Council resolution critical of Israel.

Netanyahu speaks at the UN General Assembly in New York on September 22, 2016.Drew Angerer, AFP

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attacked the UN at his General Assembly address on Thursday. In his speech, Netanyahu said he will resist any attempt by the UN to dictate terms to Israel and said he welcomes "the spirit" of the Arab Peace Initiative and boasted that most of the Arab world was already in talks with Israel, despite the way they vote at the UN.

Netanyahu also invited Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to the Knesset.

Netanyahu was harshly critical of the UN, for what he said was its "obsessive bias against Israel." He described the General Assembly as a "disgrace," the UN Human Rights Council as a "joke" and UNESCO, the UN's cultural organization as a "circus."

"Began as a moral force, the UN has become a moral farce," the prime minister said.

Netanyahu addresses the 71st session of UN General Assembly in New York on September 22, 2016.Jewel Samad, AFP

Despite his criticism, Netanyahu said that things were changing at the UN and predicted that "a decade from now an Israeli prime minister will be applauding the UN. Israel has a bright future at the UN."

More and more nations around the world see Israel as a partner, the prime minister said. "Everything will change and a lot sooner than you think," he said.

"Lay down your arms," Netanyahu told his audience. "The war against Israel at the UN is over." The reason, he explained, was Israel's diplomatic contacts with countries around the world which had previously scorned the Jewish state – most importantly in the Arab world.

"The biggest change is taking place in Arab world. For first time in my lifetime many other states recognize us not as the enemy but as an ally," he said.

Today, he explained, more nations see Israel as potent partner, "fighting terrorism today and developing technologies for tomorrow." Israel currently has relations with over 160 countries and those are getting broader and deeper every day, he said.

"I believe that the day is not far off when Israel will be able to rely on many, many countries to stand with us at the UN," Netanyahu said.

Speaking after Abbas, who in his speech said he intends to present the UN Security Council a resolution against the Israeli settlements, Netanyahu said that Israel will not accept any attempt by the UN to dictate terms. 

Netanyahu thanked U.S. President Barack Obama for vetoing a 2011 UN Security Council resolution criticial of Israel.

"You have a choice to make," he said in a public call to Abbas. "You can continue to stoke hatred or you can finally confront hatred and work with me to establish peace between our two peoples."

Proclaiming that he was "ready to begin negotiations today," the prime minister invited Abbas to address the Knesset in Jerusalem and said he would "gladly speak in Ramallah." 

That said, he sharply criticized Abbas' speech and described the breadth of what he said was Palestinian incitement in great detail.

The Palestinians, he said, "still refuse to recognize Jewish rights – to a homeland, a state, everything." He described the Palestinians as being "persistent in their refusal to recognize the Jewish state in any boundary" and stressed that the "conflict raged for decades before there were any settlements."

The settlements the Palestinians really want are in "Haifa and Tel Aviv," he said.

Netanyahu deplored what he said was the Palestinian "culture of hate." "How can we expect young Palestinians to support peace when their leaders poison them against peace?" he asked.

The prime minister acknowledged that "like all societies, we have fringe elements," but the profound difference, he said, is that "Israel's leaders condemn Jewish terrorism while the Palestinian leaders celebrate. We jail terrorists, while they pay them."

In keeping with his previous addresses to the UN General Assembly, Netanyahu lambasted both Iran and Islamic terrorism, saying that "peace has no greater enemy than militant Islam." Militant Islam must be fought relentlessly, he said, adding that Israel fights it every day on the border with Syria, in Lebanon and in the West Bank and Gaza.

The greatest threat, he stated, remains the "militant Islamic regime of Iran." He accused Iran of seeking Israel's annihilation, firing ballistic missiles in defiance of the UN and continuing "to build a global terror network on five continents."

Israel, he vowed will not allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons – "not now, not next decade and not ever."