Netanyahu: Gaza violence shows Israel cannot afford to be lax on Iran nuclear threat
In speech to Knesset, PM says Israel must be able to defend itself, blames Kadima's 2005 disengagement in allowing Iranian takeover of Gaza and says Iran's base in the Strip will be 'uprooted sooner or later.'
Israel cannot allow terror groups to be backed by a nuclear Iran, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a speech to the Knesset on Wednesday, adding that those who say he is exaggerating the severity of the Iranian threat were those who allowed Iran's takeover of the Gaza Strip.
Netanyahu spoke following a recently achieved truce between and Israel Defense Forces and Gaza militants which capped four days of rocket attacks on southern Israel and Israeli strikes of the Strip.
Referring to the recent bout of violence in his address to the Knesset, Netanyahu blamed Iran for taking over the Gaza Strip through the Hamas militant group, saying that "the dominant element driving events in Gaza is not the Palestinians but Iran, who is building the infrastructures, provides the money, and sometimes gives the orders," and that sooner or later, the Iranian base in Gaza "will be uprooted."
"Gaza is Iran's forward position," the PM added, saying that he exited Sharon's cabinet prior to 2005 disengagement since he knew then that "rockets would fly out of Gaza, fly at Ashkelon, Be'er Sheva, at Ashdod. They said we were spreading panic, that the move would lead to a breakthrough to peace. What breakthrough? What peace?"
Netanyahu then directly accused the disengagement for allowing the Iranian takeover of the Strip, telling the Kadima MKs: "Iran was let into Gaza, but it wasn't we that let Iran into Gaza, it was you."
"As soon as we were out, Iran went in," the premier added, saying the same criticism of his stance toward the disengagement in 2005 was used currently to play down the severity of the Iranian nuclear threat.
"A nuclear Iran would represent an existential threat on the State of Israel and the safety of the entire world," the premier said.
Netanyahu then warned against the effect of a nuclear power backing terror groups such as those which have been attacking southern Israel with rockets, saying: "Imagine that behind terror groups was a country calling for our destruction and armed with nuclear bombs."
"Are you ready for that? I'm not. Every leader knows this cannot be allowed to pass. An Israeli prime minister cannot hand over the ability to act against this threat to others," the PM said.
The premier also rejected claims that he was centering on the Iranian issue in order to bypass peace talks with the Palestinians, saying that there were "many reasons to making peace with the Palestinians – because we want peace, calm, because I don't want a bi-national state."
"But it would be a dangerous illusion to think that such an agreement would stop Iran and its proxies," he added.
Netanyahu also brought up several instances in which Israel acted in opposition to the United States' stance, including David Ben-Gurion declaring independence, Levi Eshkol's actions in the run-up to the Six-Day War and Menachem Begin's decision to bomb Iraq's nuclear reactor.
Speaking of the recently achieved truce between Israel and Gaza militants in an interview with Haaretz on Tuesday, the head of the Defense Ministry's political department, Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad said that the understandings reached were "very simple - quiet in exchange for quiet."
He said the understandings were not spelled out in a signed document, and the only Israeli commitment was that if the Palestinian organizations refrained from launching attacks on Israel, the IDF would also hold its fire.
At first, at the Palestinians' request, the Egyptians also attempted to obtain an Israeli commitment to refrain from targeted killings of senior figures in the various terrorist organizations. But Israeli officials said this effort was shelved in the face of Israeli opposition. "There were no guarantees and no other promises," said Gilad, denying Islamic Jihad's claim that Israel did in fact promise to refrain from targeted killings of the organization's operatives.
"Major credit goes to the Egyptians for the successful effort they invested in obtaining a cease-fire," Gilad added.