WASHINGTON – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed the "Saturday Night Live" joke about Israel's vaccine distribution as "so false," and boldly claimed that "many many Arab citizens are voting for me" in Israel's March 23 elections.
Speaking to Fox News' "Fox & Friends" morning show on Thursday, the prime minister was asked about Michael Che's joke that Israel had inoculated the "Jewish half" of their population.
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"I brought vaccines and went especially to the Arab communities and the Arab citizens of Israel and vaccinated as many as we can. I must have gone to half a dozen Arab communities already, talked with the mayors there, brought the leaders there, brought the doctors, it's so false," he said.
"Not accidentally, many many Arab citizens are voting for me. Not only because I brought vaccines for everyone, but because I brought peace for everyone. I brought four historic peace agreements that were helped by President Trump's peace team," he added.
According to figures released on Sunday evening by the Arab community's COVID-19 emergency committee, last week there were 4,423 new coronavirus cases in Arab communities, excluding mixed Jewish-Arab cities – an increase of 500 from the preceding week.
The committee's figures show that there are 7,521 active cases in Arab towns. There are 147 patients in serious condition, 48 of whom on ventilators. Over 478,000 Arab citizens have received the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine – 90,000 more than the previous week, marking a 53 percent increase. About 255,000 members of the community have received the second dose.
The far-reaching interview also covered his relationship with U.S. President Joe Biden, and his bid to reenter negotiations with Iran over their nuclear program. The interview with the right-wing network comes amid vocal talk within Democratic circles of "Bibi fatigue," with several officials telling Haaretz that Netanyahu has aligned too closely with the Republican Party.
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Israel's prime minister, however, brushed off the reports. He told the network that Joe Biden "understands that my commitment is to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons is absolute" and that he hopes they "see eye to eye on everything."
He also told the right-wing network that Biden is a friend to Israel, but reiterated "we're not going to let a bunch of Ayatollah wipe us out from the face of the earth, or from the map of history."
Netanyahu also took the opportunity to redouble his criticism of the International Criminal Court's decision on Wednesday to open up a probe into alleged Israeli war crimes, dubbing it as "outrageous" and slamming the ICC as a "kangaroo court." The Biden administration on Wednesday said it "firmly opposed" the ICC decision.
"They don't put on Syria where the Assad regime is butchered over half a million people, or Iran, that every Monday and Wednesday commits these horrible war crimes," Netanyahu said.
He also noted that the ICC is currently thinking about investigating U.S. soldiers actions in Afghanistan. "This is something that happens to us today but tomorrow it will happen to you."
The prime minister also lauded Israel's handling of the coronavirus: "Israel used to be known as startup nation, now we will be known as vaccination nation," he said. The prime minister added that he is sharing Israel's lessons with the U.S., as well as the leaders of Denmark and Austria currently visiting.
"In America, I guess, people are waiting for vaccines and Israel vaccines are waiting for people," Netanyahu said. "With this green passport, you can go to restaurants, you can go to theater, you can go to movies, sports events. I mean this is it. We're coming out. We're going to have to wear a mask for some time, but we're behind it."