The prime minister has broken his silence. More than a year after the formation of his government, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held his first interview with the Israeli media. He opened his remarks with the negotiations with the Palestinians. "Let us see if the Palestinians even agree to enter into negotiations," he said.
"From what I see at the moment, they are very, very far from this. They think that they can again embark on their rejectionist path, make unrealistic demands, and go to the UN, and basically distance themselves from the question of how they can make concessions, how they can accept a Jewish state, how they can waive the right of return, how they bring the conflict to an end."
Later, Netanyahu mentioned the housing crisis, saying, "We won't abandon this front."
In the interview, Netanyahu promised that there would be no evacuations as part of the peace agreement that would be reached. "I do not yet know what the borders will be. But you are putting the cart before the horse, because I do not see the Palestinians in a situation right now in which they are making a decision," he said. "We'll cross that bridge when we come to it, but we haven't reach the bridge. They are not there, as I see it at the moment. They have not made the strategic decision to enter into negotiations."
Netanyahu reiterated that he would not leave any Israeli citizen unprotected as part of any agreement that might be reached. "It is obvious that some settlements will not be in the agreement, everyone understands this. I will ensure that this will be a minimum, if we get there. I will take care of every Israeli citizen in the territories."
Netanyahu intends to reach an agreement that will prevent a binational state. "I tell this to my colleagues in the national camp," he said. "I think that this is a mistake. This will jeopardize the future of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. But, on the other hand, I do not want an Iranian state, I do not want us to vacate territories and for this land to be seized by puppets of Iran."
Does this mean that Netanyahu will have to leave the Likud? Not according to him. "I will stay in the Likud and most Likud voters agree with my position. If I show that I have an agreement that protects Israel's interests and also protects security, then no pressure will be needed. I will submit it to the general public and to my colleagues in the Likud."
Moving from foreign affairs to domestic issues, there is another subject that Netanyahu must deal with: housing prices. "I think that we must do something," he admitted. "We have not solved this yet, because prices have not yet fallen, but we are making great efforts and we must continue these efforts until there is a result. We must open the government monopoly to release more land and we will plan more. I will have to get into this personally, because it seems that without stronger direction it will probably not be solved. I'm busy on many fronts, the Iranian front, and the terrorist organizations front, and preventing them from obtaining arms and halting infiltration into Israel, and in the war to prevent a boycott against us, and now to bring investment from China and Silicon Valley. I am engaged on all these fronts, but I do not intend to abandon this front. I intend to enter it to help lower housing and food prices - two problems that require a solution."
In the interview, it was not possible to avoid the successful Israel Navy seizure of the Iranian arms ship last week. "I have been prime minister for eight years and we have had no war," said Netanyahu. "Not because we have no enemies, but because when our enemies try to fire at us, I respond immediately. When they try to obtain arms, I have a red line against any equilibrium-breaking weapon, and when we discover this, we act. I think that they understand that if someone fires these missiles at Israel, their lives will be forfeit. We act to stop these arms shipments, and we also act to expose Iran's true face. Iran smiles, and then it continues arming murderous organizations with killing tools. It has not changed its policy; it changed the way it talks to the world. This changes nothing. This regime must not have a nuclear weapon."
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on March 9, 2014
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