A New York Times editorial has criticised Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech before the UN General Assembly and the threats of war he made against Iran. The newspaper accused Netanyahu of sabotaging US diplomatic efforts.
"Mr Netanyahu has legitimate reasons to be wary of any Iranian overtures," the editorial said. "But it could be disastrous if Mr. Netanyahu and his supporters within the Congress were so blinded by distrust of Iran that they exaggerate the threat, block President Obama from taking advantage of new diplomatic openings and sabotage the best chance to establish a new relationship since the 1979 Iranian revolution sent American-Iranian relations into the deep freeze."
Iran concealed its nuclear programme from the United Nations for 20 years, alleged the NYT, contrary to the claims of its new President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. "Therefore it is uneasy not to deal with scepticism during the negotiations." However, the Israeli prime minister, who has repeatedly hinted that he would resort to a military option to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, "seemed eager" to fight. Netanyahu renewed his threats in the United Nations and warned that Israel reserves the right to attack Iran's nuclear facilities in the event estimates indicated that the latter is close to producing a nuclear bomb.
Shortly after Netanyahu's speech, the US State Department issued a statement confirming that there has been no change in the administration's policy and that President Obama has been clear that he will approach all diplomatic paths, although Iranian officials are expected to follow their words with deeds.
A former security advisor to the US President was quoted as saying that "Netanyahu's speech has been a failed attempt to prevent the Iranian president's move. He was eager to display everything as negative but he even hurt his own credibility with his exaggeration."
Former White House spokesman Robert Gibbs added, "Netanyahu's speech is addressed to the Israeli public. Israel did not help itself with Netanyahu's statement especially that the world has forgotten what happened in the twentieth century."