If people around the world were too busy Friday to tune in live to Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s speech
and missed his articulation of what he said
was Israel’s “truth,” then all they had to do was tune in to any number of
television interview shows over the weekend – from ABC, CNN, NBC, Fox News and
even BBC’s Arabic service – and get a concise summation.
Netanyahu said at the UN, addressing the world’s leaders “is that Israel wants
peace... The truth is that so far the Palestinians have refused to negotiate.
The truth is that Israel wants peace with a Palestinian state, but the
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That line – that Israel wants
peace with a Palestinian state, but that the Palestinians want a state without
peace – recurred frequently, with slight variations.
To ABC’s David Muir,
Netanyahu said, “I think that peace will require two states, a Palestinian state
that recognizes the Jewish state. They’re willing to accept their Palestinian
state, but they don’t want to recognize the Jewish state. They want a state
To Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren, he said, “We want peace.
We’re prepared to have peace with the Palestinian state. The Palestinians want,
basically, a Palestinian state without peace.”
To NBC’s David Gregory on
Meet the Press, it went like this: “The Palestinians want a state, but they have
to give peace in return. What they’re trying to do in the United Nations is to
get a state without giving Israel peace or giving Israel peace and security. And
I think that’s wrong. That should not succeed.”
He would have
probably said the same thing to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, if Blitzer had let up for a second asking him about another
settlement freeze, or what he really thinks about US President Barack Obama, and
whether Israelis should be mixing in US politics.
attacked the question about US politics from a different angle, but it was the
same question: How much of a friend is Obama; is he better or worse than former
US president George W. Bush; and what does Netanyahu think about Republican
presidential candidates Rick Perry and Mitt Romney slamming Obama for his
positions on Israel? Netanyahu’s diplomatic reply when this came up in each
interview was that he was not going to get drawn into American
“I’m just not going to walk into the minefield of American
politics. I’ve got enough politics back at home,” he told ABC.
News he said, “As far as American politics, I – you know, I just have enough
politics of my own in Israel.”
Meet the Press’s Gregory was told, “God,
I’m not going... to start ranking [presidents].”
To Blitzer he said,
“Well, I’m just not going to get into internal American politics.”
Blitzer pushed hard, and said, “A member of your party, the deputy speaker of
the Knesset, a member of Likud [Danny Danon], came and stood next to Rick Perry
on the eve of President Obama’s speech at the UN General Assembly and
effectively endorsed, got involved in domestic American politics.” Blitzer then
interrogated Netanyahu on whether he knew about this beforehand, and approved of
Had he known, Netanyahu said, “I would have told him [to] stay out of
The prime minister was also asked repeatedly about
former president Bill Clinton’s recent criticism that Netanyahu is to blame for
the failure of a Middle East peace process because his government won’t accept
the terms for peace offered by Ehud Barak in 2000.
And in each of the
interviews, Netanyahu’s response was the same. As he told Gregory, “I
regretfully, regretfully and respectfully disagree with the former president
None of the interviews provided much news, though there were a
few interesting tidbits, such as his saying on CNN – after being repeatedly
pressed on the issue – that he would “be willing to talk about” another
Netanyahu also raised an idea in that interview that
has not been heard often in the past: That had he wanted to, he, like Abbas,
could place conditions on a return to the talks.
One precondition, he
said, could be to “dismantle some of the refugee camps – just one – to know that
you’re serious about peace, because you know that there won’t be peace if they
don’t rehabilitate the refugees.”
Netanyahu said he didn’t do this
because he doesn’t believe in preconditions.
Netanyahu also gave an
indication of who he thought were Israel’s strong supporters in Europe. Asked on
Meet the Press about Israel’s isolation – with Gregory saying “Israel is
arguably as isolated as it’s ever been in the midst of Arab Spring” – Netanyahu
said he took issue with that assumption.
“Well, we’re not isolated in
this country, which happens to be the strongest country on earth,” Netanyahu
said. “Number two, you should come with me. You should come with me to Greece or
to Bulgaria or to Poland. Or you should see the talks we have with the Dutch,
with the Cypriots, and with others.”
The prime minister also interjected
some humor into the interviews. In the Meet the Press interview he responded to
Abbas’s cleansing the Holy Land of any Jewish connection – though acknowledging
a Christian and Muslim link – by saying, “Hello! You know, we’ve been around
there. Two thousand years. I mean, Jesus came from a certain place, you
And regarding Iran, Netanyahu actually produced a laugh-out-loud
moment out of a particularly un-funny situation when discussing Iran’s
continuing nuclear march.
“Of course [the Iranians] say that they’re
enriching uranium for medical isotopes,” he said. “That’s why they’re developing
ICBMs that could potentially reach this country, to put medical isotopes on
it. That’s a pretty expensive way to deliver isotopes to patients.”
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