Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu took to Facebook in his latest hasbara endeavor aimed at explaining Israeli policy to the international community and the Arab world in particular.
People from Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Gulf states, the Palestinian territories, and from the Israeli Arab sector, responded to the PM's announcement that he would answer questions about the Jewish State. The web surfers asked questions from a broad range of issues, including the Palestinian diplomatic process, Iran, and Israel-Arab relations.
In response to an inquiry about the Palestinian peace track, Netanyahu repeated his calls for direct talks without precondition. "There is no way of moving forward without peace talks. Unfortunately, the Palestinians, to this moment, have set up various preconditions that have prevented the start of negotiations," he said.
"I am willing to travel the 10 minutes it will take me from this office to Ramallah to begin talks with Abu-Mazen (PA President Mahmoud Abbas)... To my dismay, Abu-Mazen is unwilling to respond in kind. I think this is a mistake," he added.
Expanding on his vision of peace, Netanyahu said that he has pursued a policy of economic development in PA-controlled territories. "I am proud of my policy of eliminating hundreds of checkpoints and security barriers, which has led to a flourishing of the Palestinian economy. That said, an economic peace is nothing more than a precursor to a political peace, which must be negotiated."
One participant asked whether or not Israel was worried about Iran, prompting the PM to say "Iran is threatening the peace, threatening Israel, and threatening Arab regimes... Iran is a threat to the entire world. It is arming terror groups that fire rockets on our cities, our children," he said, adding that the goal of the Iranian nuclear program is to propel Tehran to regional hegemony in the Middle East. "I think that this is a direct threat to the peace," he said.
Answering a question on the 'Arab Spring', Netanyahu said that plenty of challenges remain in the relevant societies, including complex economic issues that require difficult internal reform. He expressed positivity on the increasing freedom of information in Arab countries, which he believes can help achieve peace in the long run.
"To this day, stigmas about the State of Israel are rampant within the Arab world. This despite the fact that 20% of the Israeli population are Arab with equal rights, with representatives in the Knesset and in the legislative system," he said. "Only a very small minority of people in the Arab world know this."
Addressing a question on Saudi-Israeli relations, Netanyahu said that "the two countries have many mutual interests... Saudi Arabi agrees in our assessment that there is a spreading of terrorism by radical groups, and I expect the Saudi regime to act against these threats."