For the first time in recent memory, Israel’s prime minister has opted not to give pre-Rosh Hashana interviews to the Israeli media, opting instead for videotaped statements – one in Hebrew, the other in English – produced in a question- free environment and uploaded to YouTube.
Government officials said it was clear Netanyahu didn’t want to give interviews because he knew that he would be asked about the diplomatic process – particularly about the settlement construction freeze – and didn’t want to be in a position of saying that it was something he could not talk about. Netanyahu has said that for the talks to succeed, they must be discreet, and he has held his cards very close to his chest regarding both his tactics and intentions.
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In the three-minute and 13-second Hebrew statement, Netanyahu called the recent relaunch of direct talks with the Palestinian an “important step in an attempt to move forward on a framework peace agreement between them and us.”
“I say this is an attempt, because there is no guarantee of success,” he said.
“There are many hurdles and many skeptics, and many reasons for skepticism.
But there is a need to try to reach peace, and we are trying, sincerely but without naïveté.”
Netanyahu repeated that any agreement would be based on two pillars:
security arrangements implemented on the ground, not just on paper, and
Palestinian recognition of Israel as the national home of the Jewish
“We have been asked to recognize a Palestinian state, and it is only
right and natural that we ask the other side to recognize the Jewish
state, the state of the Jewish people,” he said.
Netanyahu said there was no more noble and just struggle than the Jewish
people’s struggle to return to its homeland and “build our lives as a
free and sovereign people.”
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has reportedly said over
the past two days that he had no intention of recognizing Israel as the
national home of the Jews, and that Israel could define itself however
Netanyahu, in his statement in English, which was a minute shorter than
the Hebrew version, sent greetings from “Jerusalem, the unified capital
of Israel” – something he didn’t say in Hebrew.
Also in English, but not in Hebrew, he said last year had been “one of
the safest years in two decades,” but that last week’s “brutal murder of
four Israelis, including a mother of six and a pregnant woman, reminds
us that we must never take our security for granted. We must continue a
firm policy that makes clear that terror and missile attacks on our
citizens will not be tolerated.”