Iran is trying to build an “aggressive empire” in the Middle East and seeking to build bases in Syria from which to attack Israel, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told delegates at the annual AIPAC policy conference in Washington DC on Tuesday, as was reported by the Tazpit Press Service.
This year, it was reported that close to 20,000 pro-Israel supporters and lobbyists attended the annual confab that has traditionally drawn major political personalities from across the globe.
“Darkness is descending on our region,” Netanyahu said in a speech brimming with confidence. “Iran is building an aggressive empire: Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, Yemen, more to come. Now Iran is seeking to build permanent military bases in Syria, seeking to create a land bridge from Tartus, from Tehran to Tartus on the Mediterranean. And in addition to moving its army, its air force, its navy to Syria to be able to attack Israel from closer hand, it’s also seeking to develop, to build precision guided missile factories in Syria and Lebanon against Israel.
“I will not let that happen. We will not let that happen. We must stop Iran. We will stop Iran,” Netanyahu promised to a standing ovation.
The prime minister said that in his previous appearance before the conference he had tried to warn the world that the nuclear deal with Iran was a threat to the survival of Israel and the security of the region, but said that his warnings had gone unheeded and Tehran had become even more aggressive.
“I warned that Iran’s regime had repeatedly lied to the international community, that it could not be trusted,” Netanyahu said. “I warned that the deal gives Iran a clear path toward 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 that’s exactly what has happened.”
Netanyahu also extended plaudits to President Trump for his December 6th recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, while warning of the growing threat posed by the Iranian regime, according to an INN report.
“As I told President Trump yesterday, it is especially great to be in America’s capital, now that he has recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital!
“Thank you President Trump, for that historic decision.
“Thank you for announcing another decision – to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem this Independence Day.”
Trump’s decision regarding the United States recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moving the embassy there from Tel Aviv reversed decades of U.S. policy. Anti-Israel pundits across the political spectrum have posited that Trump’s decision has aggravated Arab allies and has complicated his administration’s attempt to revive long-stalled Middle East peace talks.
The Prime Minister said that the US had indicated that it was also committed to confronting Iranian expansion, saying the White House was prepared to challenge Tehran’s “aggression”.
“President Trump has made it clear that his administration will not accept Iran’s aggression in the region.
“He too will not accept a nuclear-armed Iran, and I salute him on this.”
Netanyahu also spoke glowingly of Israel’s military prowess, saying the IDF was stronger now than ever before, and cited US support for such projects as the Iron Dome missile defense system and the sale of US-built F-35 stealth fighters to the Israel Air Force, according to the INN report.
“Israel has never been stronger militarily – tremendously strong! That’s an F-35 fighter plane, the most advanced in the world. That’s an Iron Dome missile defense system, which we developed with the help of America. Thank you, America!”
The Prime Minister said that Israel’s security establishment, particularly its military intelligence services, had played a major role in foiling “dozens of terror attacks” around the world, targeting various countries across the globe.
“In the last few years, Israel’s incredible intelligence services have foiled dozens, dozens of major terrorist attacks across the world in dozens of countries.”
“A plane could have been blown out of the sky as it headed from Australia to the Persian Gulf, if it weren’t for Israeli intelligence,” said Netanyahu, referencing the revelation February that an Israeli unit had helped thwart an ISIS attack on an Australian airliner, according to the INN report.
On the subject of the growing Israeli presence in business, technology and science, Prime Minister Netanyahu said “You know, these companies – Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook – guess what? They all have research centers in Israel! Major research centers. And they’re not alone, there are hundreds more and there’s a reason: something is going on. It’s a great change. It’s want to hear jargon? This is a terrible sentence, but it’s the confluence of big data, connectivity, and artificial intelligence. You get that? You know what they do? It revolutionizes old industries and creates entirely new industries!”
He added: “Here’s an old industry we were always great at, agriculture. Now we have precision agriculture! See that drone in the sky? Connected to a big database there are sensors in the field, in the field drip irrigation, fertilization, and now we can target with this tech the water we give, the fertilizer we give, down to the individual plant that needs it. That’s precision agriculture, that’s Israeli!
You know, we were always good at water; I want you to see how good we are. We recycle almost 90 percent of our waste water. The next country, with less than 20 percent, is Spain.
Take these two things – agriculture, water – and the other tech we apply in both, we can change the world. We are, we are!”
Also on Tuesday, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman lavished praise on President Trump; telling the American Israel Public Affairs Committee that supporters of Israel owe him a “tremendous debt” for his historic changes to the US-Israel relationship.
Friedman hailed President Trump’s “historic” recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, adding that it capped off a year of “historic firsts”, including the first visit to the Western Wall in Jerusalem by a sitting US president, according to an INN report.
“It was, to put it mildly, a year of firsts. We began last May, when the White House, for the first time, hosted a celebration of Israel Independence Day,” said Friedman
“A few weeks later, I became the first US ambassador to Israel to attend the celebration of Jerusalem Day, the 50th anniversary of the day Israel recaptured the Western Wall. Just the next day, President Trump became the first sitting president in American history to visit the… Western Wall.
“And by December of last year, we were, of course, in even greater historic territory, when President Trump declared Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
“I am so proud of what the Trump administration has accomplished this past year in regards to Israel.
“We owe Trump a tremendous debt of attitude. We entered historic territory when Trump declared Jerusalem as the capital of Jerusalem.
According to the INN report, Friedman also used his address Tuesday to lambast what he called “disingenuous” supporters of Israel, a veiled reference to self-described peace organizations.
”Saying that you are pro-Israel and pro-peace is disingenuous, continued Friedman. “Using that phrase suggests Israel is not pro-peace. Saying pro-Israel and pro- peace is a redundancy. If you support Israel, you support peace and it is dangerous to suggest otherwise.”
On Monday evening, Vice President Mike Pence addressed the attendees at the AIPAC Policy Conference. As a lifelong champion of the State of the Israel and the unity of the Jewish people, Vice President Pence has been a vocal advocate for the sovereignty of Israel for decades as a featured speaker at both Jewish and Christian evangelical events.
“Tonight, I bring greetings from a great friend of the State of Israel. The most pro-Israel president in United States history. I bring greetings from President Donald Trump,” he began his remarks.
According to the INN report, the Vice President expressed his personal thanks to President Trump for his remarkable leadership and declared that “the alliance between the United States and Israel has never been stronger. I’m here to convey a message from the President: America stands with Israel. Today, tomorrow, and always.”
“When I stood here last year, I promised you that President Trump would keep his promises and so he has. Today, American support for the security of the State of Israel is greater than ever before.”
Pence noted that under Ambassador Nikki Haley, “the days of Israel bashing at the UN are over” and also stressed that Trump “did more than promise [to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel]. He delivered.”
“Thanks to the strong efforts of Ambassador Friedman, in May of this year we will open the American embassy in Jerusalem,” he said, receiving a round of applause, according to the INN report.
“By finally recognizing Jerusalem,” explained Pence, “the U.S. has chosen fact over fiction. And fact is the only way to achieve peace. The U.S. remains fully committed to achieving peace between Israelis and Palestinians. President Trump made clear we’re not taking any position on final status or contested borders. And as President Trump said, if both sides agree, the United States will support a two-state solution.”
While progress has been made in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS) in Iraq and Syria, Pence stressed, “We will not allow the defeat of ISIS to become a victory for Iran.”
Iran “aids and abets terrorist groups that sit on Israel’s doorstep,” he continued and, referring to the 2015 deal, said, “Make no mistake about it, this is their last chance. Unless the Iran nuclear deal is fixed in the coming months, the United States of America will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal immediately,” Pence told the AIPAC assemblage.
“The United States of America will never allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon.”
The nuclear deal, reached in 2015 between Iran on one side and the US, UK, France, Russia, China and Germany on the other, rolled back Tehran’s nuclear enrichment program in exchange for relief from punishing sanctions.
Trump has called the deal “disastrous” and vowed to pull out of it if it is not renegotiated, positions echoed by Pence in his speech.
Pence referred to oft-criticized “sunset” clauses in the deal that run out in several years, saying that, as a consequence, the accord “merely delayed the day” when Iran can obtain a nuclear weapon.
Pence concluded his remarks with the Shehecheyanu prayer and said, “The best days of the United States and Israel are yet to come.”
Taking the rostrum to roaring applause and endless accolades was US Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley.
As was reported by the JNS site, Haley, whose tenure at the United Nations has been heavily focused on combating the institution’s long-perceived bias towards Israel, began her speech by saying that “when I come to AIPAC, I am with friends. In the United Nations, we sometimes don’t have many friends.”
“In the real world, Israel is a strong country with a strong military,” she said to a raucous crowd that repeatedly gave her standing ovations. “But at the U.N., it’s a different story. Israel does get bullied there. It gets bullied because the countries that don’t like Israel get away with it. That just doesn’t sit well with me.”
Haley also took aim at the Obama administration for abstaining on a late 2016 U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements, calling it a “shameful day” for the United States, adding that “on my watch, that would never happen again.”
“Some people accuse us of favoritism towards Israel,” she said. “There’s nothing wrong with showing favoritism towards an ally; that’s what being an ally is all about. But in all that we’re doing, our approach on Israel is tied to one major idea—the simple concept that Israel must be treated like any other normal country.”
Also on Monday, 400 people attended a Yesha Council event near the AIPAC venue which was targeted towards showing support for Judea and Samaria in the face of the delegitimization and boycotts by adversarial forces.
The event was organized by YESHA Council in partnership with the Ministry of Strategic Affairs and Jordan Valley Municipal Council, according to an INN report.
Minister Gilad Erdan sent a video message while Oded Revivi, Chief Foreign Envoy of the YESHA Council, Education Minister Naftali Bennett, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz and Israel’s Consul General to New York Ambassador Dani Dayan where among the VIP speakers.
The event focused on solidifying Israel’s connection to her ancestral heartland and building bridges for peace by supporting the industrial zones of Judea and Samaria which employ thousands of Israeli and Palestinians that work together in peace.
Speaking in a video message from the Knesset Minister Gilad Erdan stated his portfolio’s staunch opposition to the hateful campaign of boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel.
“We will oppose any and all forms of the anti-Semitic hate campaign known as BDS and especially those targeting Judea and Samaria. We’re doing this in three ways: One- We’re exposing the true face of the BDS campaign and its real goal- the destruction of Israel as a Jewish state. Two- We’re spreading the truth about Israel, about our historical and legal rights, and about the co-existence between Jews and Arabs in Judea and Samaria. And three- we’re supporting the people of Judea and Samaria, by helping them reach out directly to you, Israel’s supporters around the world.”
Oded Revivi, the Yesha Council’s Chief Foreign Envoy took the position that Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria do not lie at the root of inherent bellicosity in the region but rather are “an integral part of the solution that will bring peace to the region…”
He added that the immediate implementation of Israeli law on the region of Judea and Samaria will assist in illuminating the rules and regulations with relation to daily life in the region. Mr. Revivi said that such a bold and courageous move would “demonstrate to the world that on a day to day basis we are actively living peacefully and cooperating with our Palestinian neighbors and giving them as well as the Jewish population, clear and legal tools to protect each one’s rights…. “
He also declared that zones marked for industrial growth in Judea and Samaria are living examples of “islands of peace” where Jews and Arabs are standing one alongside the other by the conveyer belt and in other jobs, producing different products,” according to the INN report.
The former Chief Executive Officer of the Yesha Council and the currently serving Education Minister Naftali Bennett stated that the disastrous concept of a two-state solution in achieving peace between Israel and the Palestinians was essentially a moribund option on the geo-political stage.
“The Palestinian state is off the table… it’s done.. now the big question is how we progress…the world will respect a country that respects itself. We cannot ask for recognition in Judea and Samaria without full Israeli recognition and implementation of Israeli law,” MK Bennett declared to thunderous applause.
Subsequent to his address on Monday, Bennett (who represents the Jewish Home party in the Knesset) released a notice describing his security-related meetings with US representatives on the sidelines of AIPAC.
“In the past two days, I have met with Republican and Democratic congressmen to advance Israel’s security and political interests,” stated MK Bennett.
“I thanked Eliot Engel (D-NY) for promoting legislation against Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. Ted Deutsch (D-FL) shared with me efforts to classify Hezbollah as a terrorist organization in Europe.
“I spoke with Joe Wilson (R-SC) about the need to curb Iran’s missile program. Norm Coleman [former Republican Senator for Minnesota] shared with me actions to tighten sanctions against the Iranian nuclear program.
“With Brad Sherman (D-CA) we talked about the Taylor Force Law to halt funding for Palestinian terrorists. Bradley Schneider (D-IL) told me why he returned to Congress after he retired: to stop Iran from arming itself. With Ed Royce (R-CA), chairman of the Congressional Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, we talked about the common interest in preventing Iranian consolidation in Syria.”
The Israeli Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked said, “The industrial zones in Judea and Samaria and the your bringing their agricultural produce to Washington is significant and tells not only the story of the settlement but also the coexistence that takes place daily in these areas,” according to the INN report.
Yuval Steinitz, the Minister of Energy told the enthusiastic gathering at that when Israel’s enemies launch organized and coordinated boycotts of settlements in Judea and Samaria, that this position is a “boycott of the very essence of the State of Israel.”
He continued: “Israel cannot survive without Judea and Samaria – it will not be possible to defend it strategically. God forbid, the boycott will develop for the entire State of Israel. We must work together, the Jewish world and its supporters against these attempts to boycott” (TPS, TOI & INN)