After granting holiday interviews to both Army Radio and Kol Yisrael, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided to take advantage of the opportunity to grant a comprehensive interview to Erin Burnett of CNN as well.
Netnyahu invited Burnett into his Jerusalem home, but failed to provide any new or interesting headlines. Aside from the usual messages, Netanyahu was caught recycling the same public relations slogans he employed during the early nineties.
The interview took place in the yard of the Prime Minister's Jerusalem residence, where according Burnett, Netanyahu smokes cigars, "because his wife does not allow him to smoke inside the house." During the interview, Netanyahu invited Burnett into his private office, where a large map of the Middle East was found hanging on the wall.
"That's your neighborhood," said Burnett, as she pointed to the map. Netanyahu seizing the opportunity, quickly assumed the role of a Foreign Ministry public relations agent and started to perform. "This is gigantic Israel, I can cover it with my thumb," said Netanyahu as he pressed his palm to the map,where Israel is located. He started to move his hands, covering different areas of the map. "This is the Arab world - this is Saudi Arabia, Iran, and this is gigantic Israel that you always hear about" said Netanyahu.
Netanyahu'sperformance was apparently very familiar to CNN staff, which was very quick to pull out almost identical footage from twenty years ago.
Netanyahu, then serving as deputy foreign minister was interviewed by CNN on January 18, 1991, just a few days after the Gulf War broke out. "I have a size 10 American shoe," said Netanyahu then. "I can walk on the Arab world on this map. Here's Israel, I can cover it with my thumb," explained Netanyahu.
Footageof the recycled public relations material was broadcast during the late morning live broadcast. "You've got to say," said Burnett, "some things never seem to change in this part of the world."
A large portion of the interview focused on the Iranian nuclear issue, as Netanyahu delivered his usual repertoire of claims, and raised doubts about the effectiveness of international sanctions in halting Iranian nuclear progress. During one moment in the interview, Netanyahu appeared slightly awkward, as Burnett asked him how he knows that Iran is developing a nuclear weapon. Netanyahu answered simply - "we know."
Netanyahu tried to the best of his abilities to avoid the issue of the upcoming presidential elections in the U.S., and his apparent influence on the result. "You're an important player in American politics as the Prime Minister of Israel," said Burnett, beginning a question. Netanyahu, who appeared as if he had prepared for the question ahead of time, interrupted Burnett. "No, I'm not," said Netantyahu. "I'm going to stop you right there, Erin. You know why? I have enough politics of my own, I don't need to enter American politics," explained Netanyahu.
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