Netanyahu and Trump.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will hold his first telephone conversation with new US President Donald Trump on Sunday evening, the prime minister told the cabinet.
Netanyahu, at Sunday’s weekly cabinet meeting, said he greatly appreciated Trump's “deep friendship” for Israel, as well as his “declared willingness to fight against radical Islamic terror with full force.”
Trump, in his inaugural address on Friday, starkly broke with the former administration's aversion to using the term radical Islamic terror. “We will reinforce old alliances and form new ones – and unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the Earth,” he said.
Netanyahu said that there were many issues for him to discuss with Trump, including the Israeli-Palestinian issue, the situation in Syria, and the Iranian threat.
“I want to make clear that, as opposed to some reports that I read, stopping the Iranian threat – first and foremost, stopping the threat forgotten by the signing of the bad agreement with Iran -- continues to be the supreme objective of the state of Israel,” he said.
On Saturday evening, just 24 hours after Trump’s inauguration, Netanyahu uploaded to social media platforms a brief video clip aimed at placing the Iranian threat squarely back on the international agenda.
PM Netanyahu to the Iranian people: "We are your friend, not your enemy"
“I plan to speak soon with President Trump about how to counter the threat of the Iranian regime, which calls for Israel's destruction,” Netanyahu said in the two-and-a-half minute video addressed directly to the Iranian people.
“This ruthless regime continues to deny you your freedom,” Netanyahu said in the English video, accompanied by Farsi subtitles. “It prevents thousands of candidates form competing in elections, it steals money from your poor to fund a mass murderer like [Syrian President Bashar] Assad. By calling daily for Israel's destruction, the regime hopes to instill hostility between us. This is wrong. We are your friend, not your enemy.”
This was the first video of the sort Netanyahu has put out in months, after putting out several in the spring and summer that addressed issues such as Palestinian incitement and the settlements. It is also the first time in a while that he has exclusively addressed the Iranian issue, other than in a couple of sentences in public appearances here and there.
The release of the video now, just 24 hours after Trump took over from Barack Obama, is an obvious effort to get the world's leaders – first and foremost Trump – to once again focus on the Iranian regime.
Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who also heads Bayit Yehudi, responded to Netanyahu's video in a series of tweets on Twitter implying that stressing Iran now was an effort to take attention away from what he views as the more pressing issue of extending Israeli sovereignty over parts of Judea and Samaria.
“Iran is important, but preventing another Iran in the heart of Judea and Samaria is no less important,” he tweeted. “The excuse of the 'Iranian threat' cannot be used to miss the historic opportunity of preventing palestine on Route 6.”
Netanyahu seemed to reply to Bennett in the cabinet, saying that regarding the settlements, “there is no one more concerned about it than me or the Likud government, and we will continue to take care of them with wisdom, and responsibly for the good of the settlement enterprise, and the State of Israel.”
Netanyahu wants to delay moving forward a bill to annex Ma'aleh Adumim
until after he coordinates positions on the matter with the new administration.