Sunday, May 25, 2014

Excerpts from Netanyahu interview that absolutely clear on unacceptable unilateral moves‏


Excerpts from Netanyahu interview that absolutely clear on unacceptable 
unilateral moves
Dr. Aaron Lerner - IMRA   25 May 2014
Anyone with access to internet willing to spend a few moments actually 
reading the text of PM Netanyahu's interview with Jeffrey Goldberg of 
Bloomberg before then spending hours sharing your own comments about the 
interview would come to a very clear conclusion as to what Mr. Netanyahu 
So dear reader - here is the opportunity to apparently know more about this 
interview than MK Shaul Mofaz and many other Israelis did when they claimed 
that Netanyahu might have meant that he was considering unilateral 
OK.  take a deep breath and have the attention span to read the following 
words that apparently many Israelis don't have the patience to read in their 
"Jeffrey Goldberg - Bloomberg
Netanyahu Says Obama Got Syria Right
By Jeffrey Goldberg - Bloomberg  May 22, 2014 10:36 PM EDT
GOLDBERG: So you’re still committed to negotiations?
NETANYAHU: Let me be clear -- negotiations are always preferable. But six
prime ministers since Oslo have failed in their pursuit of a negotiated
settlement. They’ve always thought we were on the verge of success, and then
[Yasser] Arafat backed off, Mahmoud Abbas backed off, because they can’t
conclude these negotiations. We don’t have a Palestinian leadership that is
willing to do that. The minimal set of conditions that any Israeli
government would need cannot be met by the Palestinians. No matter what the
spin is about blaming Israel, do we actually expect Abbas, who seems to be
embracing Hamas, to give a negotiated deal? In all likelihood, no. I hope he
does, but I’m not sure he’s going to do it.
GOLDBERG: So go back to this question of what to do next.
NETANYAHU: We don’t want a binational state, and we don’t want a
Palestinian-Iranian state next door. There is an emerging consensus that we
don’t have a partner who can challenge constituencies, do something
unpopular, do something that is difficult. Abbas has not done anything to
challenge the prevailing Palestinian consensus. In fact, he’s doing the
opposite: the Hamas reconciliation, internationalizing the conflict, not
giving one iota on the right of return, not giving an iota on the Jewish
state. He wouldn’t deal with Kerry’s framework.
GOLDBERG: Do you still think that the Palestinians embrace the idea of
destroying Israel in stages -- by setting up a state and then using that
state to continue to press their demand through violence and other means for
all of Palestine?
NETANYAHU: What the Palestinians keep saying is, Look, we want the maximum.
We will not make any adjustments in our demands. Nothing. Not tactical, not
strategic. I said to them, You tell me that you want me to draw a map of a
state, but you won’t tell me that the state on the map will recognize the
Jewish state next to it. They want a map without an end of conflict.
I think Palestinian society is divided into two. The first half openly calls
for Israel’s destruction. And the second half refuses to confront this and
refuses to confront the demons inside their own camp.
In Israel, there is a vigorous debate about what compromise would entail.
There is no such debate in the Palestinian Authority. I’m not talking about
Hamas. I’m talking about the so-called moderates who will not talk about the
minimal conditions that are necessary for peace from the point of view of
any Israeli government and just about any Israeli. They expect us to just
leave, shut our eyes, tear out the settlements. Well, been there, done that.
We did it in Gaza. And what we got was not peace, but rocket fire.
GOLDBERG: What I don’t understand is why you don’t just leapfrog this
negotiations morass and declare an indefinite settlement-building freeze --
not tearing them out, but freezing them? That way, the onus will be on the
Palestinian side, not on you, to prove that they are interested in
NETANYAHU: I don’t think it would work. Having tried once, I saw that it
doesn’t work. The Americans said the only way Abbas is going to come into
negotiations is either you release prisoners or freeze settlements: Choose.
We chose [to release prisoners]. We made it very clear to the U.S. and to
the Palestinians exactly how much we would build, including in Jerusalem. We
built exactly what we said we would build in every one of the tranches. It
wasn’t that we surprised anyone with extra construction.
GOLDBERG: Why continue to grow settlements at all when you’re trying to
negotiate? The American critique of your position is that you keep building
in ways that set back the possibility of a Palestinian state.
NETANYAHU: The settlements are an important issue, but they are not the core
of the problem. This conflict has been going on for almost a century. During
the first half of that century, there wasn’t a single settlement. From 1920,
when this conflict effectively began, until 1967, there wasn’t a single
Israeli settlement or a single Israeli soldier in the territories, and yet
this conflict raged. What was that conflict about? It was about the
persistent refusal to recognize a Jewish state, before it was established
and after it was established.
GOLDBERG: You’ve spoken about this before as an illusion.
NETANYAHU: Just a few years ago, we were told that the Palestinian issue was
the core of the conflict in the Middle East. Now you see Syria imploding,
Lebanon imploding Yemen imploding, Iraq imploding, Libya imploding. Until
three years ago, people believed this, and I was laughed out of court when I
mentioned this. This absurdity was widely believed. There was no challenging
Then there was a second illusion: that if you solved the Palestinian
problem, you’ll get the Arabs to agree with you on a tougher policy on Iran.
Well, that’s out the window now because they oppose Iran regardless of the
Palestinian issue.
Now the last illusion remains: The core of the problem in the
Israel-Palestinian conflict is the settlements. That’s about as truthful as
the previous illusions. The real issue was and remains opposition to the
Jewish state. That’s the demon that they have to confront, just as we’ve
confronted the demon of a greater Israel. Not easy, but we did it.
GOLDBERG: A lot of people would say you haven’t done this yet, because you
haven’t risked the stability of your ruling political coalition in pursuit
of territorial compromise with the Palestinians.
NETANYAHU: Look at what I’ve done. I gave the speech at Bar-Ilan University,
a religious university, five years ago recognizing the two-state solution.
Second, I tried a 10-month [settlement] freeze, and Abbas did nothing. Then
I did something that was the toughest of all -- I released terrorist
prisoners, killers of innocent people. That was the hardest decision.
That’s what I did to facilitate the negotiations. And what has Abbas done?
Nothing. He’s refused to entertain Kerry’s efforts to try and lock horns on
the core issues. He internationalized the conflict. He went to the UN
organizations in express violation of Oslo and all the interim agreements.
And now he’s embracing Hamas.
GOLDBERG: Why do you think that Kerry and [U.S. special envoy] Martin Indyk
believe that the settlements are a great impediment to peace? Indyk in
particular has denounced “rampant settlement activity" as a key factor
undermining negotiations.
NETANYAHU: Most of the settlement population, between 80 to 90 percent, is
clustered in three urban blocs, in suburbs of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem that
everyone knows will stay in a final peace settlement. Effectively, the
territory that is involved has not increased. It’s marginal. It’s been
marginal for the last 20 years. No new settlements have been built since the
time I was first prime minister, which was 1996.
What you are talking about is an increasing population within these urban
blocs. It doesn’t materially affect the map. If you took an aerial
photograph to see how much territory has been "consumed" by so-called
"rampant" settlement activity, the answer is practically nothing. If you can
make a deal, you can make a deal. The addition of a few hundred housing
units a year in this territory doesn’t alter it. Successive Israeli
governments have offered deals and couldn’t get them because the
Palestinians would not lock horns with the primary obstacle to peace, which
is the refusal to end the conflict with Israel once and for all. To
recognize that the Jewish people have the right to self-determination, just
as the Palestinian people do. My insistence on recognition of the Jewish
state is not a tactical PR stunt. It goes to the core of the conflict.
GOLDBERG: There are people in Washington who think that John Kerry is
borderline delusional for pursuing negotiations so hard.
NETANYAHU: Kerry made a big effort. We made a huge effort together. I think
he tried very hard. It’s a tough go.
GOLDBERG: Come back to this point: If the settlements aren’t a big deal,
then what’s a big deal?
NETANYAHU: In the Middle East today, there are two great threats. The threat
is militant Islam in its Shia variety or Sunni variety. The threat is what
happens when radicals get a state. Shia militants have taken over a state
called Iran that is seeking nuclear weapons and which threatens everyone in
the region. The Arabs see both threats as supreme. There is very broad
agreement. Does the Palestinian issue play a role here? It hinders more open
relations, but such relations are taking place anyway.
GOLDBERG: What will you say to the Americans if they come to you and say,
"We’ve got a deal that keeps Iran perpetually a year or more from reaching
the possibility of nuclear breakout"? That seems like a reasonable
conclusion, no?
NETANYAHU: I think this is a setup for the same mistake that was done with
North Korea. You leave Iran with a breakout capability -- let’s say a year.
During that year, you have two problems. Will you muster the political will
and capability to deal with this in a year? What if there is another
unfolding crisis somewhere? Second, on the matter of inspections that are
promised -- they built their underground bunkers when they were under
Intelligence isn’t perfect -- far from it. Intelligence did not prevent
enrichment sites from being built without anyone knowing for years.
Everybody in the region -- everybody -- shares my assessment that what you
have to do is dismantle Iran’s enrichment capability. If you leave them with
enrichment capability, then everybody will scramble to get their own
capability. They might do two things simultaneously: They might actually
kowtow to Iran and begin relations with Iran, and at the same time scramble
for their [own] nuclear weapons. So this agreement that is meant to stop the
proliferation of nuclear weapons will be instead a tremendous force for
Look at what Iran does without nuclear weapons. They’re in Syria; they’re in
Gaza, sending ships with weapons. They’re in Yemen, in Bahrain, Iraq,
everywhere. So if [Ayatollah Ali] Khamenei’s Iran becomes a threshold
nuclear power, what do you think will happen? Is this going to move Iran
into greater moderation, when he has greater force, or is he going to be
even less moderate?
GOLDBERG: There’s been a lot of criticism of President Obama on Syria, the
"red line" controversy, and the deal he engineered with [Russian President
Vladimir] Putin to bring about the removal of Assad’s chemical weapons. It’s
now nine months or so after that particular crisis. What’s your assessment
of the chemical weapons deal today?
NETANYAHU: I think this is the one ray of light in a very dark region. It’s
not complete yet. We are concerned that they may not have declared all of
their capacity. But what has been removed has been removed. We’re talking
about 90 percent. We appreciate the effort that has been made and the
results that have been achieved.
GOLDBERG: Chuck Hagel was just here. He was under fire during his
confirmation process for being anti-Israel. How do you view him today?
NETANYAHU: The relationship has truly been fine. Our defense cooperation and
intelligence sharing, which has been substantial in both directions, and our
work on anti-missile and anti-rocket defense have been very good, and this
work continues under Chuck Hagel and President Obama, and I’m pleased with
that. That doesn’t mean we can’t have differences of opinion on Iran.
GOLDBERG: So how deep are those differences?
NETANYAHU: The Americans say, "We will not let Iran have nuclear weapons."
We say we should not let Iran have the capability to produce nuclear
weapons. There’s a difference. If Iran is allowed to maintain what is called
a threshold capability, then in all likelihood, they will break out. We
think they should be pushed back so that they don’t have that capability to
produce nuclear weapons. We need to dismantle their capability, to take away
their enriched uranium and, of course, to address the other components of
their system. What is the justification for giving it [enrichment] to them?
They are a systematic violator of every UN resolution, including a UN report
that shows they’re still violating even today.
GOLDBERG: Recently, we’ve seen charges that Israel continues to aggressively
spy on the United States. Does your government run spying operations against
American targets?
NETANYAHU: This is an outright lie. Since [Jonathan] Pollard, almost 30
years ago, Israel has not conducted any espionage operations in the United
States, period. Full stop. Not direct espionage, not indirect espionage,
nothing, zero. We do not conduct in any way, shape or form espionage
operations in the United States.
GOLDBERG: You just got off the phone with the newly elected prime minister
of India. You’re increasingly isolated in parts of Europe. Are you looking
east in ways that Israel hasn’t before?
NETANYAHU: We still have a ways to go to solve the Israel-Palestinian
dispute. But there is a broader recognition that this issue shouldn’t hold
us hostage. Israel is rapidly developing relations in Asia. I was recently
in China, and I just came back from Japan. We have conversations with many
Asian countries, Latin American countries, African countries. These
countries want to seize the future, and they recognize that the only way
they can win is to innovate, and Israel is one of the great centers of
innovation in the world. These countries understand that they have to
upgrade their products and services with technology in order to compete in a
rapidly changing world. Israel is seen as an R&D lab by many governments and
companies, and they’re interested in Israeli technology. These countries and
companies are not being held back by the continuing conflict.
I hope we resolve it, for our sake. I hope we resolve it because I don’t
want a binational state. I hope we resolve it because I’d like to have
broader and more open relations with the Arab world, and I hope to resolve
it in order to remove the unjustified attacks on Israel. But we are
proceeding ahead despite this. We don’t mortgage our future to the
maturation of Palestinian politics.
To contact the writer of this article: Jeffrey Goldberg at
To contact the editor responsible for this article: Zara Kessler at 
IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis

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