A more statistically valid account of the Israeli prime minister’s UNGA references, published Thursday in the Israeli Haaretz daily, found that nuclear weapons, Iran – and peace – were the top three topics of his annual speeches.
This past year, as the world has evolved dramatically in ways both encouraging and disturbing, the gap between Netanyahu’s words and what constitutes reality for most of the world will be even wider and more obvious than usual. Netanyahu has flawless English; he knows how to match his rhetoric with his body language; his sentences are not too long and not too short.
“I am prepared to immediately resume direct peace negotiations with the Palestinian Authority without any preconditions whatsoever”, Netanyahu said in a speech before the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday.
That sentence was followed by a long, tense 40-second silence in which Netanyahu stared down the room full of diplomats.
Netanyahu devoted the bulk of his 45-minute speech to the Iran nuclear deal that he has so fiercely opposed, but he made clear that he understands it is a done deal.
While a few analysts believe tensions could ease in the coming weeks, al-Omari said it was impossible to say whether a crisis would be sparked that could spin out of control.
The Israeli leader asked the member states of the General Assembly, most of which have congratulated the negotiating parties on the landmark deal reached in July, to check their enthusiasm for the agreement at the door.
“Any path going forward requires one thing: You have to fight terror”, Netanyahu said, reiterating his complaints about Palestinian incitement and praise for violence.
That was the opening act for a tirade of rebuffs against the world for its hypocrisy and against the United Nations for its anti-Israel “obsession”. Netanyahu wanted to focus on this message. But did he convey it masterfully? Netanyahu’s has been and remains the lone voice among his counterparts denouncing the deal, which is already a done deal.
“The secretary-general reiterated his call on Israel to cease all settlement activity and demolitions while enabling access for Palestinians to a fair planning system”, the spokesman said. He also expects the world to crack down on Iranian terrorism.
“Our differences about the nuclear deal are a disagreement within the family”, he said, echoing U.S President Barack Obama. It is the least Obama can do.
Netanyahu’s speech will be the same as every speech he’s ever delivered: Not meant to convince anyone, but to reinforce the ideological belief among his supporters, that he speaks truth to power, and that it doesn’t matter who’s listening.
As always, Netanyahu will recall the Holocaust in support of his own issues: Attacking the Iran deal as enabling a second genocide of the Jews, likening European boycotts of Israel and the West Bank to Nazi boycotts of Jewish shops, and simply reasserting the right of the survivors’ descendants to defend themselves.
Former U.S. Middle East peace negotiator Aaron David Miller told CNN that the passage of the speech about the constraints on Iran was “curious” and a new development.