The international community should use “military force” if Iran develops nuclear weapons, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid told the United Nations on Thursday, as he reiterated support for creation of a “peaceful” Palestinian state.
Israel has been conducting an intense diplomatic offensive in recent months to try to convince the United States and main European powers such as Britain, France and Germany not to renew the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
For the past 10 days, various officials have suggested the deal might not be renewed until at least mid-November, a deadline that Lapid has tried to use to push the West to impose a tougher approach in their negotiations.
“The only way to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon is to put a credible military threat on the table,” Lapid said in a speech at the UN General Assembly.
Only then can a “longer and stronger deal with them” be negotiated.
“It needs to be made clear to Iran that if it advances its nuclear program, the world will not respond with words, but with military force,” he added.
And he made no secret that Israel itself would be willing to engage if it felt threatened.
“We will do whatever it takes,” he said. “Iran will not get a nuclear weapon.”
Lapid accused Tehran’s leadership of conducting an “orchestra of hate” against Jews, and said Iran’s ideologues “hate and kill Muslims who think differently, like Salman Rushdie and Mahsa Amini,” the young woman whose death in the custody of Iran’s morality policy has triggered protests across the Islamic republic.
Israel, which considers Iran its arch enemy, also blames Tehran for financing armed movements including the Lebanese Hezbollah and the Palestinian Hamas.
Despite existing “obstacles,” he said, “an agreement with the Palestinians, based on two states for two peoples, is the right thing for Israel’s security, for Israel’s economy and for the future of our children.”
Lapid, amid a campaign for the November 1 legislative elections, said a “large majority” of Israelis support a two-state solution, “and I am one of them.”
“We have only one condition: that a future Palestinian state be peaceful,” added Lapid, whose UN speech had leaked in Israel and already was being criticized by his political rivals.
Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations have been stalled since 2014.