Iran’s nuclear weapons program remains the number one threat over Israel, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said on Thursday.
Speaking to Israeli ambassadors and consuls at the conclusion of their annual gathering in Jerusalem, Netanyahu said, “The number one threat has been and remains Iran, our commitment has been and remains to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.”
Netanyahu presented to the ambassadors his assessment of the current situation and predicted that in the short term the turmoil in the Middle East will continue, but “in the long run there is a possibility for change if Iran is prevented from achieving military nuclear capability.”
He noted that as of right now, Iran has yet to cross the “red line” he set during his speech to the United Nations General Assembly in September – if it reaches enough uranium enriched to the 90% level.
At the same time, Netanyahu noted, pressure must continue on Iran to get it to drop its nuclear weapons ambitions.
The comments came in the wake of reports that Iran’s ability to attack Israel has been compromised significantly in the past year.
According to a study by Defense Ministry officials, Iran’s attempts to prop up Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the weakness of Hizbullah has taken a great toll in manpower and funds from the Islamic Republic.
The officials, quoted in Maariv, said that neither Syria nor Hizbullah are in any position to not only start a war with Israel, but would also be largely unable to respond on behalf of Iran in the event of an Israeli strike at Iran’s nuclear facilities. Syria is too badly divided at this point to respond, and without the material support in men and weapons from Damascus, Hizbullah would be too feeble to respond effectively.
Regarding the deadlock in the peace process with the Palestinian Authority and the West’s anger over Israeli construction in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem, Netanyahu said, “The settlements are not an obstacle to peace, but rather the Palestinian refusal to recognize Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish people.”
Netanyahu explained that “Hamas can take over the Palestinian Authority any day and therefore we must ensure that there are solid security measures, ensure that any arrangement would guarantee a recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, and demand a true declaration of an end to the conflict.”
He added that “the Arab demand of the right of return means the elimination of Israel.”