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September 27, 2012

Israel Seeks ‘Red Lines’ on Iran; Palestinians Want UN Upgrade

by Margaret Besheer

Israel’s prime minister urged the international community to place a “clear red line” on Iran’s controversial nuclear program as he addressed the U.N. General Assembly Thursday.  Separately, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas blasted Israel for its illegal settlement activity and said his government will seek upgraded U.N. status within the year. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his country and much of the world are at risk from a potentially nuclear-armed Iran.

He said the international community’s decade of negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program and the imposition of sanctions have not stopped Tehran from advancing its nuclear technology.

“There is only one way to peacefully prevent Iran from getting atomic bombs - and that’s by placing a clear red line on Iran’s nuclear weapons program.  Red lines don’t lead to war, red lines prevent war," said Netanyahu.

​​The Israeli leader said time is running out for the world to stop Iran.  He used a cartoonish drawing of a bomb to explain that a red line must be drawn at Iran’s ability to enrich uranium, which he said is already beyond the 70 percent level.

“And by next spring, at most by next summer, at current enrichment rates, they will have finished the medium enrichment and moved on to the final stage.  From there it’s only a few months, possibly a few weeks, before they get enough enriched uranium for the first bomb," he said.

His demand comes two days after U.S. President Barack Obama disappointed some Israelis by not giving Iran an ultimatum in his own U.N. address, although he did warn that time for diplomacy "is not unlimited."

​​Netanyahu barely addressed the Palestinian issue, except to say that more negotiations are needed.  But Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas blasted Israel for allowing settlers to carry out what he called “a campaign of ethnic cleansing” against his people.  

“Israel refuses to end the occupation and refuses to allow the Palestinian people to attain their rights and freedom, and rejects the establishment of the state of Palestine," said Abbas.

Abbas said he is consulting with other U.N. member states about seeking an upgrade in Palestinian status in the General Assembly within a year.

“We are confident that the vast majority of the countries of the world support our endeavor aimed at salvaging the chances for a just peace," he said.

Last year, the Palestinians abandoned efforts to get full U.N. membership after their application stalled in the Security Council membership committee.