Iran must face a “credible military threat” because sanctions have not deterred its nuclear weapons program, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.
Netanyahu, speaking Monday in New Orleans at the Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly, said Israel “appreciated” President Obama’s leadership in enhancing sanctions over the summer. However, he said, “we have yet to see any sign that the tyrants of Iran” have rolled back a suspected effort to obtain a nuclear device.
The Israeli leader said containment against Iran would not work.
“It will not work with a brazen and erratic regime that accuses the United States of bombing its own cities, that calls for the annihilation of Israel,” he said, referring to recent statements by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad suggesting that the United States faked the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks to bolster support for Israel. “When faced with such a regime, the only responsible policy is to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons in the first place.”
Earlier Tuesday, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that the United States preferred for now to maintain diplomatic and economic pressures on Iran.
“We are prepared to do what is necessary, but at this point we continue to believe that the political-economic approach that we are taking is in fact having an impact in Iran,” Gates told media on Monday in Australia, where he is on an official visit.
Netanyahu also called attacks against the legitimacy of Israel one of the greatest threats to the Jewish people, pointing as an example to protesters from the Jewish Voice for Peace inside the auditorium who interrupted him several times during his speech. Audience members cheered as the protesters were forced from the room.
The prime minister said the authors of the Goldstone report on the Gaza war owed Israel an apology for condemning the army, saying that it caused a high percentage of civilian deaths, in the wake of Hamas admitting that 700 of its militants died in the conflict—meaning that more than half of the Palestinian war casualties were enemy combatants.