Israeli UN ambassador sees opportunities

For Ron Prosor, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, the Iranian nuclear threat is real, the hostility coming from the United Nations is enduring, and Palestinian calls for two states are disingenuous.

Yet, he said at a Dec. 11 breakfast hosted by the Jewish National Fund (JNF) at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, the turmoil playing out in the Middle East, particularly in Syria, presents Israel with “amazing opportunities” and potential new alliances.

Beyond the fears that Israel and Saudi Arabia share about a nuclear Iran, Prosor said that the Shiite-Sunni divide that is playing itself out in the Syrian civil war “allows us to do things which are a bit different.” Yet on matters of Israeli security, Prosor added, “I cannot go into that.”

Prosor was enthusiastically welcomed by a crowd of about1,300 at the event, which JNF opened to the public. Upon entering to a raucous applause, he joked, “It sounds much better than the [U.N.] General Assembly,” referring to the hostile stance that many members of the U.N. take towards Israel.

He began his remarks by outlining Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s concerns about the recent six-month interim deal reached between Iran and the Western powers, known as the P5+1, which requires Iran to limit enrichment and freeze most of its centrifuges for six months, while at the same time being allowed to keep all of its existing nuclear infrastructure intact.

In return, Western powers have agreed to roll back what is expected to be about $7 billion in economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

Prosor said he fears that while nuclear inspectors and Western governments are focused on Iran’s enrichment capabilities over the next six months, Iran will focus on the weaponization and delivery aspects of its nuclear program.

“They are amazing negotiators,” Prosor said of the Iranians. “Internally, nothing has changed in the quest for a nuclear program.”

But, he added, from his vantage point in the United Nations he sees fissures developing among Muslim nations, some caused by Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons.

Referring to allegations that in 2011 Iran plotted to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States, Adel al-Jubeir, in a Washington, D.C., restaurant, Prosor said he saw the current Saudi ambassador to the U.N. accuse Iran of the assassination attempt on the floor of the General Assembly.

Then, Prosor went on, “The Iranian ambassador stands up and trashes the Saudi ambassador.”

Finally, Prosor said, the Syrian ambassador stood up, addressing the Saudi ambassador, and said, “You cut the throats of people with swords—who are you to talk?”

Smiling, Prosor said that he welcomes the current enmity among Muslim nations that more typically focus their animosity on Israel.

“I say, ‘Continue, gentlemen.’”