The UN ambassador for Iran has rejected Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's remarks at the General Assembly that Tehran seeks to dominate the Middle East under a "nuclear umbrella."
Delivering his first UN address on Monday, Bennett said that Iran's nuclear weapons program had "hit a watershed moment, and so has our patience," adding that Tehran has "crossed all red lines" and ignored international inspections. "Words do not stop centrifuges from spinning," he said.
U.N. envoy Majid Takht Ravanchi denied seeking a nuclear bomb, rejecting Bennett's speech as "full of lies."
"Iran-phobia runs rampant at UN," Ravanchi posted on Twitter. Israel "is in no position to discuss our peaceful program when it has hundreds of nuclear warheads," he said, referring to Israel's widely believed status as the Middle East's sole nuclear-armed state.
In his speech, Bennett blamed Tehran for funding, training and arming groups that "seek to dominate the Middle East and spread radical Islam across the world," as well as to destroy Israel. Furthermore, he said, Iran is trying to dominate the region by stretching its presence into Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Gaza, and "[e]very place Iran touches – fails."
The prime minister also called for international action. "If we put our heads to it, if we're serious about stopping it, if we use our resourcefulness, we can prevail," Bennett said.
Taking aim at hardline President Ebrahimi Raisi, Bennett referred to him as the "butcher of Tehran" and accusing him of human rights abuses over the years. Raisi, a Shi'ite cleric, is under U.S. sanctions over allegations of rights violations when he was a judge.
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Ignoring the Palestinian issue
Bennett made not a single direct mention of the Palestinians in his remarks, except to accuse Iran of backing anti-Israel militant groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
"Deliberately omitting a reference to Palestine reflects his fear of it, and once again proves to the international community that he is not and will not be a partner for Palestinians in the peace and negotiation process," Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki told Reuters.
Biden, in his U.N. speech last week, declared renewed U.S. support for a two-state solution, after Trump distanced himself from that longstanding tenet of U.S. policy, but said Israel and the Palestinians were a long way from achieving it.
Addressing the General Assembly on Friday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas accused Israel of destroying the two-state solution with actions he said could lead Palestinians to demand equal rights within one binational state comprising Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.
Bennett focused instead on Israel’s landmark normalization agreements brokered by the Trump administration last year with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco. "More is to come," he said.