Netanyahu says Trump’s critics ‘dead wrong’ on Middle East peace efforts
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that President Trump’s critics were “dead wrong” in predicting that the Trump administration’s attempts to bring peace to the Middle East would fail — after a series of landmark U.S.-brokered deals were signed earlier this month.
Addressing the annual U.N. General Assembly in a pre-recorded speech, Netanyahu said it was Trump who chose a different path to peace – “a path anchored in reality.”
“He recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital; he recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights; and he put forward a realistic peace plan that recognizes Israel’s right, addresses Israel’s security needs and provides the Palestinians with a dignified realistic path forward if they make peace with Israel,” he said.
Netanyahu continued, “The critics argued that each of these steps by President Trump would kill the chances for peace. Well, they were wrong. Dead wrong.”
He spoke just two weeks after the signing of the “Abraham Accords” at the White House. Those deals, signed between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, and Israel and Bahrain, saw the normalization of relations between the two Arab countries and Israel — a set of deals that Trump hailed as “the dawn of a new Middle East.”
Netanyahu, who was present at the ceremony, told the U.N. that he believes more peace agreements with other Arab states will follow
“Now two Arab states have decided to make peace with Israel, and more will follow,” he said, before rejecting the idea that the deals would make an Israel-Palestinian deal less likely. “The expanding circle of peace will not make an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians less likely.”
“It will make peace between Israelis and Palestinians more likely,” he said.
He went on to urge the international community to stand up to terrorist groups like Hezbollah. Referring to the recent explosion in Beirut, where Hezbollah holds a great deal of power, Netanyahu pointed to a picture of a secret Hezbollah arms depot set up close to a gas company and an entrance to a Hezbollah missile factory. Both were in the Beirut neighborhood of Janah.
He encouraged the people of the area to act now, warning that if it explodes, another tragedy like last month’s could hit their country.
“I say to the people of Lebanon, Israel means no harm. But Iran does,” he said. “Iran and Hezbollah have deliberately put you and your families in grave danger.”
On the question of Iran, Netanyahu again praised President Trump for his administration’s strategy of standing up to Tehran, particularly the 2018 decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal — known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
“First and foremost, I commend President Trump for withdrawing from the flawed nuclear deal with Iran,” he said.
He also warned that due to Iran’s violating the deal it will have enough uranium in a few months for two nuclear bombs, and took aim at “our European friends,” and the U.N. Security Council for ignoring Iran’s many transgressions.
Noting the Security Council’s failure to extend an expiring arms embargo on Iran, Netanyahu noted with some irony that, “While the Security Council is divided, we in the region are united. Both Arabs and Israelis are together, urging tough action on Iran. And when Arabs and Israelis agree, others should pay attention.”
Earlier in the day the United Arab Emirates’ Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, announced that his country would be running for a seat on the U.N. Security Council for the 2022/23 session.
He said his nation’s call for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital remained “a firm demand,” and said he hoped that the signing of the peace agreement with Israel, “will provide the opportunity for the Palestinians and the Israelis to re-engage in negotiations to achieve peace.”
Al Nahyan also called on Iran to abide by Security Council resolutions and to stop its development of ballistic missile programs and to stop arming terror groups, while also expressing concern about the state of the Iran nuclear deal.
“Since the nuclear agreement did not achieve its desired outcome, we hope that this experience will be useful in achieving a more comprehensive agreement that addresses the concerns of states in the region and that makes them key partners in drafting the terms of the agreement,” he said.