Benjamin Netanyahu flies to US in bid to block Iran’s return to diplomacy

Israeli leader plans to fight ‘the blitz of smiles’ as the US eyes Rouhani talks

Jerusalem

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu will tomorrow try to foil Iran’s moves towards rehabilitation in the international community during a speech at the UN General Assembly aimed at reversing the diplomatic and public opinion gains made by the new Iranian president Hassan Rouhani.

In remarks late on Saturday before departing for the United States, where he will meet US President Barack Obama later today, Mr Netanyahu signalled that as far as Israel is concerned, nothing has changed but the rhetoric from the years of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who denied the Holocaust and spoke of Israel’s removal. Above all, Mr Netanyahu will stress that Iran is still intent on attaining a nuclear bomb, something Israel views as an existential threat.

“I will tell the truth in the face of the sweet talk and the blitz of smiles. One must speak facts and one must tell the truth,” Mr. Netanyahu said.

In his own UN speech last week, Mr Rouhani last week departed from Mr Ahmadinejad’s rhetoric and acknowledged suffering of Jews during the Holocaust although he made clear in separate remarks that he did not view Nazi crimes as justification for dispossession of the Palestinians.

A phone call Friday between Mr Obama and Mr Rouhani, the first contact between presidents of the two nations since 1979, elicited no official Israeli reaction but for some raised the prospect that the Jewish state, which pulled its diplomats out of the General Assembly to boycott Mr Rouhani’s speech, could eventually become isolated in its continued espousal of unrelenting pressure on Iran, including the threat of military action.

Still, Zalman Shoval, former Israeli ambassador to the US said “We don’t think that at this point the US is being fooled.

“Israel doesn’t want to be the odd man out but doesn’t mind being the one to point to the facts as they are,” he added. “Churchill was called a war-monger in the 1930s but at the end of the day he was right.”

Mr Netanyahu’s closest ally, Avigdor Lieberman, the chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee, hinted yesterday that Israel would act alone militarily to destroy Iranian nuclear capabilities if necessary. “It is worth remembering that with the Iraqi reactor Israel was alone and sounded the alarm,” he wrote on his Facebook page, referring to the 1981 strike on Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor. “In retrospect it became clear we were right.”

“The conciliation offensive of Rouhani is no more than an additional fraudulent exercise like the one North Korea did in its time,” Lieberman added.

Mr Netanyahu has said that Iran needs to take four steps to show it is serious about stopping what Israel believes is its drive to a bomb: halt all uranium enrichment, transfer the enriched uranium it has out of Iran, close the Fordow enrichment facility and halt work on a plutonium channel to a nuclear weapon.

Meanwhile, the Shin Bet internal security agency, which is run by the prime minister’s office, yesterday said it is holding an Iranian with Belgian nationality on suspicion he spied in Israel on behalf of Iran’s elite revolutionary guards, including taking pictures of the American embassy in Tel Aviv.

The Shin Bet stressed that the man, who it identified as Ali Mansuri, 55, had joined a unit responsible for terrorist attacks in sites throughout the world. It said he had entered Israel under the name Alex Mans to set up business ventures as a cover for Iranian intelligence activity.

He was arrested at Ben Gurion Airport on 11 September. The agency said he had photographed the US embassy in order to “follow” activity there.

Israel Radio quoted officials in Mr Netanyahu’s entourage in the US as saying the arrest “is further proof that the words coming from Iran do not match the criminal actions it undertakes”. But lawyers appointed by the state to defend Mr Mansuri were quoted by Israel’s Ynet news agency as saying he was “a businessman who is not motivated by an anti-Israel or pro-Iranian agenda.” They said Mr Mansuri was prevented from seeing lawyers for more than a week.

Zahava Galon, head of the liberal Meretz party, yesterday voiced support for the American-Iranian contacts. “I think that cautious contacts between the US and Iran are the correct and necessary step. If there is any way to prevent Iran going nuclear without another war we have a moral obligation to realise it.”

PROMOTED VIDEO
Voices
News
i100
Life and Style
fashionHealth concerns and 'pornified' perceptions have made women more conscious at the beach
News
i100
Sport
Yaya Toure could leave Manchester City in the summer, claims his agent
transfers
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
News
media
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmHe was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior C++ Developer

£350 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Senior C++ Developer – L...

Part Time SEN Teacher

£120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you looking for a Part Time S...

SEN Teaching Assistant Runcorn

£50 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: SEN Teaching Assistant EBD , Septemb...

Client Services Associate (MS Office, Analysis, Graduate)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Client Services Associate (Microsoft Office, Ana...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz