Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday that Israel could destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem if it wanted to – but doing so "would be contrary to everything we represent."
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Netanyahu was speaking during a meeting of the Likud Knesset faction on Thursday. A recording of his words was published by Army Radio.
Responding to what he said was Palestinian incitement regarding Israel's supposed interest in getting rid of the mosque, which has been at the center of repeated clashes between Palestinian protesters and the Israel Defense Forces, Netanyahu said:
"If we wanted to destroy Al-Aqsa, it wouldn't require too much effort. We know what to do. But it's contrary to everything that we represent."
Netanyahu also defended Israel's handling of the current wave of violence, asking rhetorically what New York would do if confronted by a similar problem.
"If it happened in the streets of New York, what do you think the New York police would do?" he asked. "I'd like to know what they would do."
Ironically, Netanyahu opened his comments to the faction by complaining about leaks to journalists. The recording published by Army Radio was apparently leaked from the faction meeting.