JERUSALEM (AP) – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday urged the world not to relaunch the troubled international nuclear deal with Iran as he opens Israel’s annual memorial day for the 6 million Jews who have perished in the Holocaust.
Speaking as world powers launch a new effort to bring the United States back to the founding agreement of 2015, Netanyahu also said Israel was under no obligation to honor it.
“History has taught us that deals like this, with extremist regimes like this, are worthless,” Netanyahu added. “An agreement with Iran that will pave the way for nuclear weapons – weapons that threaten us with destruction – under no circumstances will we be bound by such an agreement. We have only one obligation: to prevent anyone who seeks to destroy us from carrying out their plot.
Israel views Iran as its greatest enemy, citing the Iranian government’s calls for the destruction of Israel, its support for anti-Israel militant groups and Iran’s military presence in neighboring Syria. Israel accuses Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons, a charge Iran denies.
The 2015 deal, led by the Obama administration, imposed restrictions on Iran’s nuclear activities in exchange for the lifting of harsh economic sanctions.
Netanyahu strongly opposed the deal, saying it did not include sufficient guarantees, and welcomed the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the deal in 2018.
President Joe Biden, who was vice president under Barack Obama when negotiating the original deal, has said he wants to bring the United States back into the deal, but Iran must reverse its violations.
The United States and Iran announced last week that they were entering indirect talks to revive the deal, a development that has raised concerns in Israel.
Netanyahu also took the opportunity to attack the International Criminal Court, which has opened an investigation into war crimes against Israel, which will partly focus on Israel’s war practices in the Gaza Strip. .
Netanyahu called the investigation “absurd” and accused the court of distorting its original mission – rooted in the Nuremberg trials against Nazi leaders after World War II.
“During the Holocaust,” he said, “we had no rights, no country, no protector. Today we have a country, we have protection and we have the natural and complete right, as the sovereign country of the Jewish people, to defend ourselves against our enemies.
The ICC investigation examines Israeli military activity in Gaza during the 50-day war in 2014. More than 2,200 Palestinians have been killed, more than half of whom were civilians, according to UN figures.
Palestinians and human rights groups accuse Israel of using excessive force and failing to take sufficient safeguards to protect civilians. Israel says it was acting in self-defense against Hamas rocket fire. He claims the Islamic militant group is responsible for the civilian casualties as they used residential areas to carry out attacks.
Israel, founded in 1948 following the Holocaust, is now home to a large but rapidly declining community of less than 180,000 aging survivors.
Holocaust Memorial Day is one of the most solemn in Israel’s calendar.
The 24-hour period began with an evening ceremony at Yad Vashem, the national Holocaust memorial, where Netanyahu and other dignitaries spoke. Six survivors lit six symbolic torches to commemorate the 6 million Jewish victims of the genocide of the Nazis and their collaborators.
During the annual memorial, entertainment venues and restaurants close, and TV channels either cease broadcasting or devote programs almost exclusively to Holocaust documentaries, survivor interviews and melancholy music.
Thursday morning Israel will stop as sirens blast for two minutes in the morning. Pedestrians usually stop in their lane, and cars and buses stop in the streets as drivers and passengers exit their vehicles to hold their heads down.
Other ceremonies on the solemn day include the public reading of the names of Holocaust victims in the Israeli parliament and elsewhere in the country.
Earlier Wednesday, Israeli researchers released an annual report on global anti-Semitism. The report found that the number of violent incidents around the world declined last year, with the coronavirus forcing people to stay indoors. But he said anti-Semitic activity had increased online, where conspiracy theories accusing Jews of the medical and economic devastation of the pandemic abounded.