DEVELOPING: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opened his address to world leaders by unabashedly affirming Israel's right to exist, days after Iran's president called for the Jewish state's "elimination."
In a fiery speech to the United Nations General Assembly, Netanyahu said radical Muslims want "to end the modern world," and cited recent violent demonstrations in the Middle East as showing "the medieval forces of radical Islam.
"How many lives will be lost before its defeat?" Netanyahu asked."
Netanyahu noted his nation’s historic alliance with the west and in particular the U.S. and their shared interest in stopping the Islamic Republic from backing up its longstanding threats. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, also in new York for the UN General Assembly, called for the “elimination” of Israel in an interview before his own speech on Wednesday.
Earlier Thursday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said he will seek to apply to the General Assembly for nonmember status as a sovereign country while cautioning that the expansion of Israeli settlements hurts chances for a two-state solution.
“Despite all the complexities of the prevailing reality and all the frustrations that abound, we say before the international community there is still a chance -- maybe the last -- to save the two-state solution and to salvage peace,'' Abbas said.
Palestinian officials said the bid is likely to be submitted on Nov. 29. The effort was not intended to pose a threat to Israel, Abbas said.
“We are not seeking to delegitimize Israel, but rather establish a state that should be established: Palestine,” Abbas said.
He also warned the assembly that Israel is promising a “new catastrophe” if it continues with current policies in the West Bank.
“Israel refuses to end the occupation and refuses to allow the Palestinian people to attain their rights and freedom and rejects the independence of the State of Palestine,” Abbas said. “Israel is promising the Palestinian people a new catastrophe.”