Netanyahu: Iran must believe world is willing to act
Iran must believe the world is willing to use force if the Islamic state is to be persuaded to give up its nuclear ambitions, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday, dpa reported.
"If the world wants to stop Iran without military action, it has to convince them that they are willing to take such action," Netanyahu said in New Orleans.
Netanyahu was in the Louisiana city to address the conference of the Jewish Federations of North America, as part of a trip to the United States that will also include several days in New York.
"The greatest danger facing Israel and the world is the prospect of a nuclear Iran," Netanyahu said. He added that the latest round of UN Security Council sanctions has harmed Iran but "we have yet to see any signs that the tyrants of Tehran are reconsidering their pursuit of nuclear weapons."
Netanyahu met Sunday with US Vice President Joe Biden and was to meet later in the week with US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Biden reportedly told Netanyahu that the United States remained committed to preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.
The United States has been trying to revive peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians that have been stalled since September, when an Israeli moratorium on settlement activity ended. The Palestinians want the freeze extended to continue talks, and Washington has unsuccessfully tried to convince Netanyahu to do so.
Netanyahu said he remains committed to reaching a peace deal with the Palestinians but must first ensure that Palestinian territory could not be used to carry out attacks on Israel. He repeated demands that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
"Israelis want to see that the Palestinians are as committed as they are to ending the conflict once and for all," Netanyahu said. "They want to know that just as we are ready to recognize a state for the Palestinian people, the Palestinians are ready to recognize Israel as the state for the Jewish people."
US President Barack Obama oversaw the relaunching of the first direct Israeli-Palestinian peace talks in early September, only to see them falter once the settlement freeze expired on the 26th of the month.
Netanyahu's visit to the United States came as plans were announced to build an addition 1,300 settlement units on East Jerusalem land claimed by the Palestinians as the future of their state.
US State Department spokesman PJ Crowley told reporters in Washington the announcement further undermines efforts to get the peace talks back on track.
"We were deeply disappointed by the announcement of advanced planning for new housing units in sensitive areas of East Jerusalem," Crowley said.
Crowley said he expected the latest settlement plans to come up during Clinton's meeting with Netanyahu in New York on Thursday. Israeli media reported the settlements are planned for the neighbourhoods of Har Homa and Ramot.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed it.