Benjamin Netanyahu
Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo by Moti Milrod
Text size

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday that more pressure should be exerted on Iran to put an end to its nuclear weapons program, and that although the Islamic Republic is still calling for the destruction of Israel, "they are being embraced by the world."

Speaking at The Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations in Jerusalem on Monday, Netanyahu welcomed the attendants to the "undivided capital of the Jewish people."

"I know it is not fashionable," Netanyahu said, "but we need more pressure on Iran - not less." The goal of the talks with Tehran "should be zero centrifuges and zero enrichment," he said, preventing the regime from "the capacity to produce a nuclear weapon."

Netanyahu also warned that the Islamic Republic is developing new centrifuges "50 times better than the ones they have now," as well as intercontinental ballistic missiles that could "target Europe and the U.S. and… carry a nuclear payload."

Netanyahu lashed out at boycott attempts against Israel, saying that "those who boycott Israel are classic anti-Semites in modern garb." "In the past," he said, "anti-Semites called for boycotting Jews; now they call for boycotting the Jewish state."

With regards to the peace process with the Palestinians, Netanyahu said that "If there is a Palestinian partner for peace, then there is a way to move this forward. We will know soon."

Earlier on Monday, the long-serving executive vice-chairman of the conference,  Malcolm Hoenlein, said that this year's event has set at the top of its agenda this year the goals of "educating" the world about the "dangers of Iran" and combating the delegitimization of Israel.

Former U.S. senator and vice presidential candidate Joe Lieberman will head a special taskforce on Iran set up by the conference, Hoenlein disclosed at a press briefing called to mark the opening of the organization’s annual conference in Jerusalem.

Iran and world powers, grouped under the so-called "5+1," reached an interim deal last November whereby Tehran agreed to suspend for six months parts of its nuclear enrichment operations in return for modest sanctions relief. Iran and the six powers aim to build on the six-month deal when they start talks in Vienna on Tuesday on a permanent settlement of the decade-old dispute over nuclear work the West fears has military aims but Tehran says is entirely peaceful.