Netanyahu speech / PM slams Gaza probe, challenges UN to confront Iran
Premier praises those who walked out on Iranian president's speech on Wednesday.
In a dramatic address to the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Iran poses a threat to the peace of the world and that it is incumbent on the world body to prevent the Islamic Republic from obtaining nuclear weapons.
In response to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's claims about the Holocaust, Netanyahu began his speech by lambasting those who did not walk out on the controversial leader during his speech on Wednesday.
For the full text of Netanyahu's speech, click here.
The premier also took aim at Ahmadinejad's litany of statements casting doubt on the Holocaust.
"Is this protocol a lie?" Netanyahu asked as he brandished the minutes of the Wansee Conference, the 1942 meeting during which Nazi officials planned the Final Solution.
The prime minister also held up the architectural blueprints of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camps that bear the signature of Hitler's deputy, Heinrich Himmler.
"Are the successive German governments that have kept these documents for posterity all liars?" the premier asked. "And what of the survivors whose arms still bear the tattooed numbers branded on them by the Nazis? Are those tattoos a lie, too?"
Netanyahu praised world diplomats who walked out of Ahmadinejad's fiery speech to the UN on Wednesday and assailed those who remained seated.
"Yesterday the president of Iran stood at this very podium and spewed his anti-Semitic rants," the premier said. "Just a few days earlier he claimed that the Holocaust was a lie."
"Do those who listened to Ahmadinejad's speech have no shame, no decency?" the premier asked. "Nearly one-third of all Jews at the time perished in the Holocaust," he said. "Nearly every family was affected, including my own."
"Perhaps some of you think [Ahmadinejad] and his odious regime only threaten the Jews," Netanyahu continued. "Well, if you think that you are wrong, dead wrong."
Netanyahu warned against the dangers posed by Iran, imploring the West to confront the Islamic Republic's "religious fanaticism."
"The struggle against Iran pits civilization against barbarism," Netanyahu told the UN. "This Iranian regime is fueled by extreme fundamentalism."
"What starts as attacks on Jews always ends up engulfing others," Netanyahu said. "This regime embodies the extremes of Islamic fundamentalism."
The premier challenged the world body to prevent Iran from acquiring weapons of mass destruction. Israel and the Western powers believe Iran's nuclear program is of a military nature, a charge the Iranians deny.
Netanyahu said the progress made in the postwar 20th century could be undone if Iran is permitted to build atomic weapons.
"History could be reversed if primitive fanaticism acquires deadly weapons," the premier told the UN. "The jury is still out on the United Nations, and the signs aren`t encouraging."
The prime minister also assailed the Goldstone Commission Report which accused Israel of committing war crimes during Operation Cast Lead, the three-week offensive against the Hamas-led Gaza Strip.
"Israel has justly defended against terrorism," Netanyahu said. "This report provides a clear-cut bias against Israel."
"Rather than condemn terrorism, some at the UN are condemning its victims," Netanyahu said. "It is not easy to fight terrorists firing from schools and mosques."
The premier said Israel has gone to "extraordinary" lengths to advance peace in the region, including the unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.
"The Gaza disengagement was very painful for Israel," the prime minister said. "Israel withdrew from Gaza because we believed it would achieve peace."
Netanyahu took the UN to task for "remaining silent" while Gaza gunmen launched Qassam rockets at Israeli towns and communities in the western Negev.
The prime minister said his country wants "genuine peace" and he praised the late Arab leaders Anwar Sadat and King Hussein of Jordan for their "courage" in forging diplomatic ties with Israel.
"Every time an Arab leader truly wanted peace, they got it," Netanyahu said. "If the Palestinians truly want peace, we will make peace."
Netanyahu also reiterated an Israeli demand that the Palestinians explicitly recognize Israel as "the state of the Jewish people."
"Say yes to a Jewish state," Netanyahu urged the Palestinians. "The Jewish people are not foreign conquerors in the land of Israel."
Netanyahu said he recognized that the Palestinians are also desirous of a homeland, and that Israel was committed to living side by side with its Arab neighbors.
As a condition for peace, the prime minister said any future Palestinian state must be "effectively demilitarized" so that it would not have the means to threaten Israel.
"I said effective because we do not want another Gaza, another south Lebanon, another Iranian-backed terror base threatening Jerusalem," Netanyahu said. "We want peace, and I believe that with goodwill and hard work, such a peace can be achieved."
Netanyahu also invoked Winston Churchill in imploring the international community to oppose Iran and the rejectionist groups it supports, including Hamas and Hezbollah.
"The question facing the international community is whether it is prepared to confront these forces or just accommodate them," the premier said.