Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem .
(photo credit: REUTERS)
A two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian peace accord is desirable not because it will have any significant influence on the turmoil roiling through the Middle East, but rather because this will prevent the establishment of a binational state, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in London.
Netanyahu, speaking to some 120 MPs and members of the House of Lords from parties across the political spectrum on Wednesday, said the solution to Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians was “a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes a Jewish state, the nation state of the Jewish people.”
He said he favored that solution because he opposed a binational state, and because he has fought in battle.
“I’ve been to wars,” he said, with words selected especially for the British parliamentarians because of the negative, warmongering image parts of the British public have toward him and Israel.
“I have been personally wounded. I’ve lost loved ones, and I’ve held a fellow soldier in my arms as he died when he was 18 years old, and I was 18,” he said. “Peace is infinitely preferable, so the notion that the people of Israel, or that I, prefer conflict to peace, or that we are not ready to take the steps for peace, are absurd.”
Netanyahu met with the members of British-Israeli Friendship Parliamentary Associations after meeting in the morning with Prime Minister David Cameron, during which the Palestinian issue was one of the central topic of discussion.
In remarks alongside Cameron before that session, Netanyahu announced again his willingness to open direct talks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
He expounded on this at his meeting with the members of Parliament.
But, he said, the other side is unwilling and is placing precondition obstacles in the path toward talks, something he said was being “obfuscated by the constant repetition of nontruths that Israel does not want peace, that I don’t want peace.”
Netanyahu acknowledged that Israel is facing a “public opinion problem” in Europe, but suggested that this may be changing as more people – faced with the reality of refugees fleeing militant Islam – “recognize that something vast and different is taking place.”
Against forces of modernity epitomized by the innovation and technology in both Israel and Britain, there is a countervailing force moving against progress. Netanyahu defined this force as the twin pillars of radical Shia Islam embodied by Iran, and radical Sunni extremism, incarnated by Islamic State. Characterizing this force as “early medieval,” he said “it is primitive, violent, unforgiving and very, very dangerous.
“Those suffering the worst blows are fellow Muslims,” he added. “And millions are fleeing their unbelievable savagery, and they are causing unbelievable suffering, and it is only the beginning. This is something we all have to cooperate to stop at the source.”
Netanyahu repeated something that he has mentioned a number of times in recent days, the need for collective action in Africa to “try to help shore up their economies and security capabilities against the Islamic terror movements.”
The Islamic terrorist groups in Africa are “relatively weak today, but will get stronger tomorrow,” he said. “We are facing the prospective tragedy of failed states; we cannot have failed continents.
The consequences would be felt everywhere, but especially here [in Europe].”
Netanyahu arrived in London on Wednesday for a two-day visit that followed a meeting a week ago in Italy with Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. He announced on Thursday that he will be meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel next month.
The prime minister is scheduled to return to Israel on Friday.