Netanyahu at Davos: Jerusalem to remain capital under any peace agreement

Netanyahu's speech comes hours after he met with United States President Donald Trump on the sidelines of the conference.

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January 25, 2018 14:01
4 minute read.
srael's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures as he speaks the World Economic Forum (WEF) annua

srael's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures as he speaks the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland January 25, 2018. (photo credit: DENIS BALIBOUSE / REUTERS)

Netanyahu was interviewed by CNN's Fareed Zakaria on the main Davos stage on Thursday, saying: "Under any peace agreement the capital of Israel will continue to be in Jerusalem."

Netanyahu reiterated that the seat of Israeli government is in Israel, and that Jerusalem has been the capital of the Jewish people for 3000 years. Donald Trump did "a great service for peace, because peace can only be based on truth. You can't build peace on fantasy," the PM said.

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When asked whether there wasn't anything to be said for the Arabs' historical connection to Jerusalem, Netanyahu stated that "Israel's position is that Jerusalem should remain united under Israeli sovereignty with complete freedom for everyone to practice their faiths as they choose." PM Netanyahu At the World Economic Forum in Davos (Youtube/ IsraeliPM)

He further claimed that if that were to change, "you could see Israel descend into the sectorial violence that categorizes other places in the Middle East."

"The Palestinians should have all the power to govern themselves but none of the power to threaten us," Netanyahu said. "In any political arrangement the Jews must retain security control in the area, because otherwise you'll have ISIS... We have a mosaic of failed states in the Middle East, and we don't want another one."

The prime minister commented on the oft debated topic of whether Israel can remain both Jewish and democratic with the possibility of the growing Arab population becoming a majority between the Jordan and the sea: "We don't want to annex [the Palestinians] as our citizens and we don't want them as our subjects. They can live in their own sphere, except the powers that we need to retain in order to protect ourselves.

He called this "a realistic model for an enduring peace."

Netanyahu called Jared Kushner and Trump's peace team "very able," and remarked that "these people have made their marks in the market in real estate. This is fundamentally not a real estate deal, but it also has its real estate elements. They're very creative."

He said the Palestinians – who he said have been “pampered” by the international community – “have to stop kvetching” and return to negotiations.

“If you want to have peace, you have to negotiate peace, you can't negotiate peace if they refuse to negotiate, and it is a fact that Abbas simply does not want to negotiate, he runs away,” Netanyahu said.

To sum up the subject of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Netanyahu said, "I think we want to end this conflict. I know what it could do to the neighborhood, for the Palestinians, for us."

Netanyahu ripped into the Iranian nuclear deal,  saying it is “so deeply flawed that it guarantees that Iran will have the opportunity to make nuclear weapons.”

Regarding the statements by European leaders that they intend on keeping the deal, despite Trump’s demand to fix it, Netanyahu said that the fact that they “signed a bad deal doesn’t meant they have to keep a bad deal; in history you've had instances of nations who have signed very bad deals living – if they've managed to live – to regret it.”

On the subject of the ongoing investigation he is under in Israel, Netanyahu assured the forum that "no one is above the law in Israel, but I'm also confident that nothing will come of it. There's nothing to come out. It's just a question of time."

His speech came hours after he met with US President Donald Trump on the sidelines of the conference.

Trump claimed that the US has a "great proposal for the Palestinians" but that "respect has to be given." He said that he took the issue of Jerusalem off the table by recognizing it as the capital of Israel thus clearing the way for real progress.

He called out the Palestinians for refusing to meet with Vice President Mike Pence during his visit in Israel this week.

"When they disrespected us a week ago by not allowing our great Vice President to see them, and we give them hundreds of millions of dollars in aid and support, tremendous numbers, numbers that nobody understands -- that money is on the table and that money is not going to them unless they sit down and negotiate peace."

Netanyahu also met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday, urging her to fix the Iran nuclear deal.

After the meeting, Netanyahu said that he told her that only real changes “will prevent Iran from going nuclear, which would otherwise be assured by the agreement as it stands.”

Netanyahu said that Merkel understood the Israeli position, even if she did not agree on how to deal with the issue.

Netanyahu also met on Wednesday with  Swiss President Alain Berset, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, Kagame and Guatemalan Finance Minister Julio Hector Estrada.

Netanyahu issued a statement following the meetings, saying he stressed Israel's refusal to allow Iran to establish a military presence in Syria, and said that Israel is working to prevent this.

Herb Keinon contributed to this report.


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