PM Netanyahu: After election, Iran will remain my top priority


PM Benjamin Netanyahu speaking at an event marking the 13th anniversary of Taglit-Birthright Israel program, calls on the world to wake up, saying that the real danger to int’l peace comes from Iran & Syria, not from Israeli construction in Jerusalem.

By Yael Baranovsky, Yori Yalon, Shlomo Cesana, Israel Hayom Staff and Reuters



Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday that dealing with the Iranian nuclear threat would continue to be his top priority following the upcoming Knesset election on January 22.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets Taglit-Birthright Israel participants on Monday. – Photo: Amos Ben Gershom / GPO

Speaking at an event marking the 13th anniversary of the Taglit-Birthright Israel program, Netanyahu dismissed international criticism of Israel’s construction policies in and around Jerusalem, saying that the real danger to world peace came from Iran and Syria.

“I believe that it’s time for the rest of the world to wake up,” Netanyahu said. “The great challenges that we face, the great danger to the world, is not from Jews building in our ancestral capital in Jerusalem, it’s from nuclear weapons in Iran, those weapons that are built in Iran. It’s chemical weapons in Syria falling into the wrong hands which is the danger we have to focus on.”

Taglit-Birthright Israel was established in 2000 and has provided free, 10-day educational tours to more than 300,000 young Jewish adults between the ages of 18 and 26 from dozens of countries around the world.

“You come from different countries; you speak different languages; you have different cultures. But you all have one thing in common: Israel is your birthright; Israel is your common homeland,” Netanyahu said at Monday’s event.

Video: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday

Credit: GPO

Netanyahu has set out a mid-2013 “red line” for tackling Iran’s uranium enrichment project. The West says Iran’s program is aimed at developing the means to build nuclear weapons. Iran denies this, saying it is enriching uranium for civilian energy.

Speaking in a Channel 2 interview on Monday, Netanyahu said that he maintains an important relationship with U.S. President Barack Obama, as well as with members of both major American political parties. Netanyahu said that he appreciates U.S.-Israel cooperation on matters such as intelligence and that such cooperation would continue.

In the same interview, Netanyahu said that in order for a Palestinian state to be recognized by Israel, the Palestinians must recognize Israel as a Jewish state, drop their demand for a right of return and declare an end to the conflict.

“The Palestinians to date have not agreed to these terms,” Netanyahu said. “They have refused to negotiate.”

Netanyahu also spoke on Monday at a press conference for Russian-language media outlets and praised Yisrael Beytenu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman.

“The relationship between Lieberman and I has lasted for many years and we have a common understanding of how to address challenges,” Netanyahu said.

Regarding Lieberman’s indictment on corruption charges, Netanyahu said that “I’m sure that the [legal] process will end soon. I want Yvette (Lieberman’s nickname) to be by my side in a senior position.”

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