MARCH 8, 2018 – WASHINGTON – Escaping from the political pressures and investigations back home, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu found a warm greeting at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference on Tuesday, where the Israeli leader fell back into familiar themes of thwarting Iranian aggression and touting his strong relationship with US President Donald Trump.
“The bad things are getting worse, and they’re very bad. The force behind so much of what is bad is this radical tyranny in Tehran. We must stop Iran,” Netanyahu told the crowd of some 18,000 attendees in Washington, D.C.
“When I last spoke here, I warned, tried to warn the world about a nuclear deal that was a threat to the survival of Israel, the security of the region, the peace of the world,” he said. “I warned that Iran’s regime had repeatedly lied to the international community, that it could not be trusted. I warned that the deal gives Iran a clear path towards developing a nuclear arsenal in little more than a decade. And I warned that by removing Iran’s sanctions, Iran’s regime would not become more moderate and peaceful, but more extreme and belligerent – much more dangerous.”
“And, ladies and gentlemen, that’s exactly what has happened,” the Israeli leader said, describing Iran as “building an aggressive empire” in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, the Gaza Strip and Yemen.
Netanyahu vowed to put an end to Iran’s aggression, saying “I will not let that happen. We will not let that happen.”
The Israeli leader, who met with Trump at the White House earlier this week, said the president has “made it clear that his administration will not accept Iran’s aggression in the region.”
Netanyahu continued, saying “he has made clear that he, too, will never accept a nuclear-armed Iran. That is the right policy. I salute President Trump on this.”
He also praised Trump’s decision to walk away from the Iran nuclear deal unless its “fatal flaws” are fixed.
As expected, Netanyahu also strongly thanked Trump for recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. “As I told President Trump yesterday,” he said, “it is especially great to be in America’s capital now that he has recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.”
In his 30-minute speech, Netanyahu did not touch upon the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, which the Trump administration is attempting to restart by rolling out a plan for talks.
However, he did praise the US Congress for moving forward with the Taylor Force Act, which would cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority if it did not end payments to convicted terrorists or their families, saying that the legislation would send a message that “America has zero tolerance for terror.”
Said the Israeli premier: “I have a message for President [Mahmoud] Abbas: Stop paying terrorists. Because what message does this send to Palestinian children? It says, ‘Murder Jews and get rich.’ I believe President Abbas should find greater use of this money.”