NEW YORK (JTA) — Benjamin Netanyahu told the U.N. General Assembly that the Goldstone report on the Gaza war presents the United Nations with a choice: Support Israel or terrorists.
“The jury’s still out on the United Nations, and recent signs are not encouraging,” Israel’s prime minister said Thursday in his General Assembly address. “Rather than condemning the terrorists and their Iranian patrons, some here in the United Nations have condemned their victims. This is exactly what a recent U.N. report on Gaza did, falsely equating terrorists with those they targeted.”
Netanyahu was referring to the report by South African jurist Richard Goldstone on the 2009 Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, which accused both Israel and Hamas of war crimes for targeting civilians. Israel said it went to great lengths to spare the Palestinian civilian population in Gaza during the war.
Noting that the United Nations failed to issue a resolution condemning Palestinian rocket fire from Gaza after Israel withdrew from the territory in 2005, Netanyahu said U.N. members must dismiss the Goldstone recommendations if Israel is to take further risks for peace.
“This biased and unjust report provides a clear-cut test for all governments: Will you stand with Israel or will you stand with the terrorists?” Netanyahu said. “We must know the answer to that question now, not later. Because if Israel is again asked to take more risks for peace, we must know today that you will stand with us tomorrow. Only if we have the confidence that we can defend ourselves can we take further risk for peace.”
The Palestinian representative in the plenum walked out midway through Netanyahu’s address. Someone else yelled at Netanyahu after he concluded his speech, as he was exiting the General Assembly.
During his address, Netanyahu garnered applause when he said Israel wants to live beside the Palestinians in peace, prosperity and dignity. “As deeply connected as we are to our homeland, we also recognize that the Palestinians also live there and they want a home of their own. We want to live side by side with them,” he said.
The Israeli prime minister began has speech with a denunciation of Iran’s president and a harsh critique of his Holocaust denials. Holding up copies of a Nazi document from the Wansee conference that showed plans for the concentration camps to exterminate European Jewry, Netanyahu declared, "Is this a lie?" He also listed his wife’s relatives who perished in the Holocaust.
The prime minister called upon U.N. member nations to take a stand against Iran, calling the “marriage between religious fundamentalism and weapons of mass destruction” the most dangerous threat the world faces today.
Referring to the Iranian regime as the “tyrants of Tehran” and “dictators who stole an election in broad daylight,” Netanyahu concluded, “The question for the international community is whether it’s prepared to confront those forces or accommodate them.”