WASHINGTON D.C. - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that Israel remains committed to preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
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Addressing the Saban Forum in Washington D.C. via satellite link, the prime minister said Iran had become even more aggressive since the signing of a nuclear agreement with world powers last year. He stressed that he intended to discuss the Iran issue with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump once he assumes office.
When asked by businessman Haim Saban whether military action against Iran was still an option, Netanyahu said, "When I say we're committed to prevent Iran, I mean we're committed."
"The problem how to deal with this agreement is something I'll discuss with president-elect Trump," Netanyahu said.
The prime minister said he expects the United States to continue playing a role in the Middle East. "I don't think President-elect Trump is going to put the world aside," Netanyahu said. "I think the opposite is true."
Speaking on the so-called alt-right movement, Netanyahu said that "there is always anti-Semitism on the ultra-right and ultra-left," adding that he believes "the U.S. is a healthy democracy."
On the Palestinian issue, Netanyahu said he still believes a two-state solution can be reached, but reiterated his position that the Palestinian must recognize Israel as the Jewish nation-state. Netanyahu suggested that a peace agreement could be advanced through a regional deal, and added that dictates will not bring peace.
"Trying to promote dictates at the UN will not get us closer to peace," he said.
As for the infighting inside his government and whether it will reach its full term, Netanyahu said that "every week people say the [governing] coalition is about to collapse, but it never does."
"The coalition isn't going anywhere and it will survive all obstacles. I don't see elections in the near future. I don't want it."
At the closing of the session, Netanyahu asked to comment on free speech and the freedom of the press in Israel. "There is no country in the world where the press is freer," he said. But he stressed that free speech also means that "we have the right to criticize the press, as I just did."
On Friday, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said at the Saban Forum that the vote on the outpost-legalization bill – scheduled to take place on Monday - should be postponed until U.S. President Barack Obama leaves office.
"The key to the future of the settlements is reaching understandings with the U.S. on this issue," Lieberman said. "It is better to postpone the vote on the outposts legalization bill until after January 20, when Obama leaves office."
The minister of defense said Israel hopes Trump will play an active role in the Middle East. "The U.S. can't isolate itself," Lieberman said. "It's impossible." He added that Israel hopes that President Donald Trump will play an active role in ending the war in Syria. "We need an active America in the Middle East."
On the issue of the Palestinians, Lieberman said that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas "has no real legitimacy to be the Palestinian leader.
"We can solve the Palestinian issue just as part of a regional solution," Lieberman said. He added that "The Arab world only pays lip service to the Palestinian issue. They don't really care about it."