Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will speak to the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday, addressing topics like the Iran nuclear deal, Syria and growing tensions with Palestinians over the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
“Whenever I speak at the UN, it is a great merit and responsibility to tell the nations of the world the truth about Israel, about our country,” Netanyahu told reporters in Israel.
He said there are a number of issues of importance to the security of Israel, with a top concern being the deal struck with Iran. Netanyahu fought against any deal with the neighboring country.
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“The world needs to know how the citizens of Israel feel about the nuclear deal with Iran and what we expect of the international community following the agreement,” Netanyahu said. “In my speech, I shall also refer, of course, to Israel’s policy on Syria and the dangers that lurk on our northern border.”
The prime minister has scheduled meetings with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon during his visit in the United States. It is expected that Netanyahu will talk about peace in the Middle East and the ongoing dispute over the Temple Mount.
Israeli officials closed the Temple Mount to both Muslims and Jews in October 2014 amid rising tensions, but reopened it to Muslim prayers the next day. Palestinians said last fall that closing the Mount would result in war. While the Temple Mount is Israel’s most sacred place, Jews are not allowed to pray there. Muslims, who also lay claim to it, are allowed to worship in the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and the Temple Mount is open to tourism. Netanyahu said he is committed to maintaining the status quo regarding the Temple Mount. However, Muslim activists are harassing Jewish people visiting the holy site.
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“The Palestinian rioters at the temple Mount that bring in weapons, pipe bombs and fireworks – they are the ones who hurt the sanctity of the place and breach the status quo. Every day that passes makes it obvious that Israel is an island of stability in the Middle East,” he commented.
Netanyahu met with Israeli activists over the past year to hear their concerns and listen to their views on worshiping on the Mount, but has maintained there will be no change in policy. Israel’s policies regarding the Temple Mount have been in place since 1967.
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