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.”

Life and Style
Customers can get their caffeine fix on the move
food + drink
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Voices
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US
voicesRobert Fisk: Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script
Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
filmReview: Lucy, Luc Besson's complex thriller
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
peoplePamela Anderson rejects ice bucket challenge because of ALS experiments on animals
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
tvExecutive says content is not 'without any purpose'
News
A cleaner prepares the red carpet for the opening night during the 59th International Cannes Film Festival May 17, 2006 in Cannes, France.
newsPowerful vacuum cleaners to be banned under EU regulations
Arts and Entertainment
tvSpielberg involved in bringing his 2002 film to the small screen
Sport
sportLeague Managers' Association had described Malky Mackay texts as 'friendly banter'
News
A polar bear’s diet is rich in seal blubber and half of its own body weight is composed of fat
i100
News
peopleCareer spanned 70 years, including work with Holocaust survivors
News
people
Travel
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
News
London is the most expensive city in Europe for cultural activities such as ballet
arts
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson has rejected criticisms of his language, according to BBC director of television Danny Cohen
tv
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

Generalist HR Administrator, Tunbridge Wells, Kent - £28,000.

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Generalist HR Administrator - Tunbri...

Head of IT (Not-for-Profit sector) - East Sussex

£45000 - £50000 per annum + 5 weeks holiday & benefits: Ashdown Group: Head of...

Supply Teaching jobs in Thetford

£21588 - £31566 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad Education ar...

KS1 teachers needed in Peterborough

£110 - £125 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad Education are ur...

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape