At Reform biennial, Netanyahu calls for peaceful solution to Iran, Palestinians


(JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in an address to the Union for Reform Judaism Biennial 2013 conference stressed the importance of peaceful solutions to the Iranian nuclear program and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

His speech Sunday, via video feed to the conference’s closing plenary in San Diego, also praised recent efforts to find a compromise solution to interdenominational conflict at the Western Wall.

In large part, the speech repeated the principal points of Netanyahu’s address to the Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly last month in Jerusalem.

Netanyahu began by reiterating his frequent message that the best way to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons is through maintaining economic sanctions alongside the threat of military attack.

“Iran is bent on a nuclear weapons program,” he said. “We would seek a peaceful solution. We cannot allow this regime to have a nuclear weapons capacity.”

Netanyahu said that Iran’s repression of civil rights at home, as well as its support for terror abroad, belie the friendly diplomatic posture its leaders have struck recently.

“It talks the talk, but it walks the walk of death every day,” he said.

Addressing ongoing Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, Netanyahu repeated his call for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. He also emphasized the need for an agreement that will ensure Israel’s security.

To reach this historic peace, I’m ready to make difficult decisions,” he said. “I made these decisions because I wanted to give negotiations a chance. Peace is not a one-way street. It’s a two-way street.”

The prime minister ended his speech with a mention of the recent efforts to forge an interdenominational compromise at the Western Wall. He thanked the Reform movement for its efforts to strengthen Jewish identity and American Jews’ connection to Israel.

“I’m committed to making sure all Jews feel at home at our holiest site,” he said. “Israel is and must continue to be the home of the entire Jewish people.”

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