Kerry and Netanyahu meeting 370.
(photo credit: Matty Stern/US Embassy Tel Aviv)
Israel is not interested in becoming a “bi-national country,” but must ensure
that it can defend itself by itself against any threat, Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu said on Thursday, hours before US Secretary of State John Kerry
arrived for talks.
The two met for a working dinner on Thursday night in
Jerusalem, but made no comments before their meeting.
/>Kerry, who arrived
from Jordan for his fifth visit since March, was expected to travel back to
Jordan on Friday for a meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud
Israeli officials said Kerry may return to Israel either before
Shabbat or on Saturday evening for a follow-up meeting with Netanyahu. The US
Embassy announced that he planned a press conference in Amman on Saturday
Kerry met with Jordanian King Abdullah II on Thursday
afternoon before leaving for Israel. State Department spokesman Patrick
Ventrell, meanwhile, markedly refrained from giving any details at the daily
State Department press conference of the substance of those talks, or on the
content of the discussions Washington is conducting with Israeli or Palestinian
officials regarding restarting negotiations.
Netanyahu, speaking at the
annual state memorial service for Theodor Herzl, said before Kerry arrived that
Israel wanted peace “because we want to live in peace.” But, he said, no one
should “delude themselves into thinking that if we reach an agreement with the
Palestinians it would erase the wild slander against the Jewish
Netanyahu said that regardless of what Israel does, its name will
still be blackened around the world and it will continue to be depicted as
“rejecters of peace, as warmongers, as a dark country that aspires to
He reiterated a theme he has repeated a number of times over
the past few months: that anti-Semitism, the historic hatred of the Jews, has
now been transferred into a hatred of the Jewish state.
He noted that
Israel was continually on the bottom of a BBC survey asking people to name which
countries have the most positive effects on the world.
continually on the bottom of that list alongside Iran and it does not matter
what we do,” he said. “It does not matter what we contribute. It does not
matter, because we are not dealing in facts.” He added that this “will not
change regardless of whether Israel is in the midst of a peace process,” and
regardless of how much tikkun olam – “fixing the world” – Israel is engaged
“Peace is desirable in and of itself,” Netanyahu said, underlining
that Israel did not pursue it to gain international legitimacy. “Peace is based
on security; it is not based on goodwill and legitimacy as people think. It is
based first and foremost on our ability to defend ourselves. Without
security, without the army that Herzl called to establish, we cannot defend the
peace; we cannot defend ourselves if the peace unravels.”
most Israelis understand that security is a fundamental condition for both
achieving and securing peace.
President Shimon Peres, meanwhile, took the
opportunity at the Herzl ceremony to welcome Kerry and wish him success in his effort to “revive the
“Peace is a moral foundation of Judaism; it is an existential
need of the Jewish state,” Peres said.
“A binational state contradicts
the vision of Herzl; it endangers the Jewish and democratic State of Israel.
There is a chance to renew the peace process, and it is not to be missed.”Bloomberg contributed to this report.