Netanyahu and Dichter at the Knesset Foreign Affairs Committee .
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Israel is the strongest country in the Middle East and it should use this for leverage, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Wednesday.
Netanyahu stressed that Israel is strong both diplomatically and militarily and only getting stronger, so by understanding the region’s interests Israel could achieve diplomatic ties with more Arab countries other than Egypt and Jordan.
“Our military power is stronger than ever – not only in absolute terms but also in relative terms,” the prime minister said, mentioning the Memorandum of Understanding was signed with the US in 2016.
“Only recently I signed on an agreement with former US president Barack Obama that will give us NIS 38 billion in military assistance. This stable aid with allow the IDF and other military services to use the most recent and sophisticated technology in the world.”
Netanyahu then noted that Israel is broadening its influence in the diplomatic sphere. “Three weeks ago I met with US President Donald Trump,” he said.
Netanyahu says Arab countries increasingly see Israel as an ally (credit: PMO)
“Tomorrow I will arrive in Moscow to meet with [Russian President Vladimir] Putin. In about 10 days I am scheduled to meet with Chinese President Xi [Jinping] after receiving an invitation from him, and in several months Indian President [Narendra] Modi will come here to visit. The biggest world powers are tightening their ties with us – and they are not the only ones.”
Netanyahu added that in 2016 he met with some 250 senior world leaders from all five continents.
“Israel is being sought after, it is a wanted country – first of all because of our cyber technology knowledge – both civilian and military,” he said.
MK Omer Bar-Lev (Zionist Union) interrupted Netanyahu and asked why this is occurring, after the passage of Security Council Resolution 2334 condemning it less than three months ago.
“We can see support to Israel in the different international bodies, but not always – as we saw in the Security Council when the Obama administration ended,” he replied.
“But everyone can see the positive changes in the diplomatic arena that are opening new markets for us and brings with it new opportunities.”
Regarding threats to Israel’s security, Netanyahu repeated his statement last week that 80% of security threats against Israel emanate from Iran. “Iran and its satellite forces such as Hezbollah, the Islamic Movement and Hamas are accumulating weapons, and their aggression can be felt all over the region,” he said. “This challenge is always in front of us and we are prepared.”
Netanyahu added that the change of power in the US is being viewed as positive when it comes to dealing with Iran. “One of our ways of dealing with Iran is encouraging this change of approach in the US, which helps us stand strong against the Iranian threat.”
This change has already resulted in an ad hoc regional coalition forming against Iran and could open doors for normalizing Israel’s relations with its neighboring countries. “I believe in nurturing these interests,” he said. “In my opinion, if we act wisely, it could assist us normalizing ties with countries in the region and opening new diplomatic streams – that could be more efficient – between us and the Palestinians.”