Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared on Monday that he can deliver peace, claiming that the Palestinians were once again making a terrible mistake by not returning to the negotiating table.
Netanyahu told Charlie Rose in an interview on PBS Monday night, that he is ready to negotiate "anywhere any time, without preconditions, just do it. It's so simple yet they make it so complicated. It's like the Nike commercial, just do it. And I'm prepared to just do it."
Netanyahu conceded that the failure of a two-state solution is not in Israel’s interest, saying: "I don't want the Palestinian population incorporated as citizens of Israel or as subjects of Israel so they have to live in their own state.”
“I just want to make sure that that state doesn't become another Gaza, doesn't become another mini-Iran which could destroy the one and only Jewish state," he told Charlie.
Netanyahu said in the interview that he has the support of the coalition, and that he is capable of delivering peace. "I think the Palestinians are again making a terrible mistake,” he said, imploring the Palestinians to “take that opportunity and make peace, for God’s sake."
The Israeli prime minister said that he refused to compromise on Jerusalem as a united city, but said this is not a precondition for negotiations; it is a position in the negotiations. "It’s even silly to come forward and say, “Well, I’ll offer this percent, you know, with a decimal point of land” - that’s what the negotiations are for! Now, I don’t hear Abbas saying anything - nothing! He’s not offering anything,” Netanyahu exclaimed to Rose in the interview.
The Israeli prime minister then went on to lament the fact that in the entire time he has been prime minister, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has only agreed to meet with him for six hours.
“You know, we have a century of conflict to resolve. Six hours, that's all you give?" he said in frustration.
Netanyahu admitted that he refuses to go back to the 1967 lines, adding that he has U.S. President Barack Obama’s endorsement in this matter.
When asked about his rocky relationship with Obama, Netanyahu told Rose that "we may have some differences on this or that point but to be honest I think we're very close on the main things.”
He commended the U.S. president’s speech at the UN that endorsed Israel’s right to defend itself, adding that the security cooperation between Israel and the United States is excellent, and Obama has played a positive role in this partnership. “We've had some differences on the definition of the borders, but that's something that will be worked out in negotiations, and we agree with that,” Netanyahu added.
He was less optimistic about the prospects of Israeli-European ties, half-joking that it is more difficult to get a consensus in the EU than it would be for him to reach an agreement with Abbas.
Netanyahu addressed this issue of recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, a point of recent contention in Quartet talks. The Israeli prime minister said that in the event that the Palestinians refuse to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, "we'll have the Palestinian state in Palestine, which is Jew-free, ethnically cleansed from Jews, that's what they said outrageously the other day, and we'll have Israel which has a Jewish majority and a Palestinian minority.”
However, he then discussed the right of return for Palestinians to Israel, saying that in the event that Israel agrees to “flooding Israel with millions of Palestinians, we'll have two Palestinian states ultimately, Palestine and this Palestinized Israel".
Rose asked Netanyahu whether he hopes that the Palestinian refusal to accept the Quartet recommendations will turn the UN Security Council members against them in the vote for recognition of Palestinian statehood- Netanyahu replied that he doesn't know what the final vote will be.
The Israeli prime minister also discussed the threat of a nuclear Iran, an issue he expounded upon in his address to the UN on Friday."Stopping him (Ahmadinejad) should not only be my concern, it should be the concern of America, of every civilized nation,” Netanyahu said, adding “I hope that we all recognize that we have to act in time. The Iranian goal of getting to a nuclear weapon gets closer with every day that passes".
Netanyahu warned that the prospect of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons in the near future is more likely than people think, saying the Iranians are “very determined”.
“Peace with the Palestinians will not stop the centrifuges from spinning in Tehran, the prime minister said, “but if you stop the centrifuges from spinning in Tehran, you might actually get an easier peace with the Palestinians. Half of the Palestinian population that is controlled by Iran, Hamas, would immediately lose any meaning, because without Iran, without Iran's invincibility, Hamas doesn't go very far. It's like Cuba without the Soviet Union".
Rose asked Netanyahu if he would ask for U.S. approval to launch a preemptive strike on Iran. Netanyahu responded coyly, saying “look, Israel is a sovereign country. We always reserve the right to defend ourselves. But I wouldn't say anything beyond that.”
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