Netanyahu: A nuclear Iran ‘infinitely more dangerous’ than North Korea

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures while giving a lecture at Chatham House, The Royal Institute of International Affairs, in London Nov. 3, 2017. Netanyahu spoke to outline his government’s foreign policy priorities in light of the current geopolitical landscape across the Middle East and took part in a question and answer session. (AFP/Adrian Dennis)
Updated 04 November 2017

Netanyahu: A nuclear Iran ‘infinitely more dangerous’ than North Korea

LONDON: Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu has said Iran would be “infinitely more dangerous” than North Korea should it develop nuclear weapons, pointing to Tehran’s aim for “world domination.”

Netanyahu, speaking at the Chatham House think-tank in London, pointed to Iran’s backing of Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Houthis in Yemen and Shiite militias in Iraq.

“The one potent force in militant Islam that has emerged is Iran. And it is devouring one nation after the other. It is doing so either by direct conflict, or more usually by using proxies,” Netanyahu said.

“The good news is that the other guys are getting together with Israel as never before.”

Pointing to a large map behind the stage at Chatham House, Netanyahu illustrated Iran’s apparent plan for a so-called Shiite crescent extending to Israel’s borders.

“They have actually a conception of world domination that should have gone out the window with the last religious wars,” he said.

“There’s something … irrational and dangerous in such a cause.”

Netanyahu said a “new alliance” has emerged between his country and the Sunni Arab states to combat an “irrational and dangerous” Iran.

Most Arab states do not have formal diplomatic relations with Israel, but Netanyahu said ties have been growing stronger due to the perceived threat from Tehran.

“There is something that I wouldn’t have expected in my lifetime, but we are working very hard to establish, and that is an affective alliance between Israel and the moderate Sunni states to (combat) the aggression from Iran,” he told the audience in London.

Netanyahu said that the “new alliance between Israel and the Sunni states” was not dependent on peace with Palestinians, but could lead to it.

He described the shift in Arab-Israeli relations as “dramatic,” adding that “attitudes to Israel are mellowing considerably” in the Arabian Gulf amid heightened tensions with Tehran.

States such as Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain have accused Iran of meddling in other countries’ affairs and see Iran as the largest state sponsor of terrorism.

“When Arabs and Israelis are saying the same thing, it’s worth paying attention to it,” Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu’s lecture came the day after he joined his British counterpart Theresa May at a dinner celebrating the Balfour Declaration of 1917.

The controversial document offered Britain’s support for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”

Netanyahu said on Friday he hoped a US peace initiative on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will work.

Asked if he felt now was the moment for peace in the region, noting US President Donald Trump’s involvement in peace efforts, he said: “Hope so.”

“What’s being discussed now is an American initiative. Obviously we make our interests and our concerns known to Mr.Trump. He’s coming with a sort of refreshing ‘can-do’ ... they’re trying to think out of the box,” Netanyahu said.


Palestinian minister claims Israeli police physically abused him

Fadi Hidmi. (Supplied)
Updated 04 April 2020

Palestinian minister claims Israeli police physically abused him

  • East Jerusalem — with a population of 350,000 — has been all but ignored by the Israeli Ministry of Health in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic

AMMAN: Palestinian Minister of Jerusalem Affairs Fadi Hidmi was released by Israeli police on Friday afternoon after being arrested for the fourth time without charge.

Ministry spokesman Awad Awad told Arab News that Hidmi had been “warned” not to “move around” or “do any work in” Jerusalem in accordance with measures being taken to minimize the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Awad also claimed that Hidmi had been physically abused by the police, saying that the minister was “punched in the face and forced to wear a mask with blood on it.”

CCTV at Hidmi’s Mount of Olives house show that he was manhandled by Israeli police during his arrest in the early hours of Friday.

Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld confirmed the arrest.

Rosenfeld told the Israeli press that Hidmi was arrested “on suspicion of Palestinian activities in Jerusalem.”

He said police searched Hidmi’s home and confiscated documents as well as “large sums of money. Israeli media said that the police had confiscated NIS10,000 ($2,750) found in the house.

Hidmi, a Jerusalem resident, was the director of the Jerusalem Chamber of Commerce and Industry before accepting his current job in the Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh’s government.

Before Hidmi’s release on Friday, Shtayyeh wrote on social media: “Israel targets who work for #Jerusalem, even at such critical moments as we work to save our people's lives from #COVID19.”

East Jerusalem — with a population of 350,000 — has been all but ignored by the Israeli Ministry of Health in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

Dr. Jamil Kousa, director of the St. Joseph hospital, told Palestine TV that he was only informed on March 25 that his hospital should be prepared to accept patients with COVID-19.

Ahmad Buderi, the coordinator of the Jerusalem Alliance — an organization launched to help combat COVID-19 — has said that people in the city are depending almost solely on local initiatives to deal with the pandemic.

Before his arrest, Hidmi launched the website madad.ps to coordinate the distribution of urgenly needed food and medical supplies to the city’s residents.

Walid Nammour, secretary-general of the Jerusalem Hospital Network, estimates that the city’s six hospitals need $7 million to to deal with the potential spread of COVID-19 in East Jerusalem.

Nammour told Arab News that 300-400 ventilators are needed and that only 26 are available at present.