Text size

Likud chair MK Benjamin Netanyahu has summoned about 70 foreign diplomats stationed in Israel to a meeting next Tuesday, at which he will urge them to end their complacency and join Israel in an effort to halt Iran's nuclear program, which he says is aimed at genocide of the Jews.

The meeting is to be the first event in an international public relations campaign. It will include a proposal to file a complaint in the International Court of Justice against Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for war crimes, and his plans to commit genocide will be presented.

The initiative will be presented by MK Danny Naveh (Likud) and Dore Gold, a former Israeli ambassador to the UN, both of whom flew to the U.S. this week for a series of meetings to promote the idea.

Netanyahu's independent campaign is expected to embarrass the Prime Minister's Office and the Foreign Ministry, since it expresses a public lack of faith in the state's public relations policy on the Iran issue.

In private conversations, Netanyahu has claimed that Israel's public relations policy has failed because it has not led to organized international action, such as significant economic sanctions, against Iran.

In the past several months, particularly during last summer's war in Lebanon, Netanyahu avoided blunt attacks against the government, preferring to adopt a responsible, statesmanlike image. Now, too, he is careful to avoid remarks that could rebrand him as a bible thumper, but he also knows that he will have to position himself as an alternative leader by making bold moves and exploiting his high public opinion marks. Next Tuesday's meeting is an expression of this strategy.

"We must cry Gevalt before the entire world," Netanyahu said recently. "In 1938, Hitler didn't say he wanted to destroy [the Jews]; Ahmadinejad is saying clearly that this is his intention, and we aren't even shouting. At least call it a crime against humanity. We must make the world see that the issue here is a program for genocide."

In his conversations, Netanyahu often complains about the lack of diplomatic and public relations initiatives to strengthen Israel's deterrence. "The biggest problem is that the Iranian program is progressing unheeded, with no supreme Israeli effort to stop it. All the options must be readied; this must be our greatest effort and we must not be surprised, but nothing is being done."

Netanyahu says Israel must get the Americans to take action, not just with words but through an act of Congress.

He also calls for lobbying European and Russian public opinion in order to push through economic sanctions, such as halting Iranian petroleum exports.

With regard to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Netanyahu says, "There is a general sense of slack, as if there were no government. All previous prime ministers felt a supreme responsibility; they had an agenda. They were committed to the future of the State of Israel, with the exception of the current prime minister, who said the prime minister doesn't need an agenda. So why is he there? In my opinion, this is the first time that Israeli citizens have encountered a prime minister who is there simply because he is there."