Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the Saban Forum via satellite on Sunday, saying that Israel needs a government capable of making tough decisions, and therefore he is seeking a broad mandate from the public in early elections scheduled for March.
Netanyahu said that Israel seeks peace, but needs a partner that is willing to fight the extremism within Palestinian society, as other Arab leaders are fighting extremism in their countries.
The Middle East is tumultuous, Netanyahu said. Islamic State's barbarism is just one example of this. Israel and its moderate Arab neighbors have a lot to cooperate on, and this could be the path to peace, he added.
"We both want a sustainable peace. There can be no peace without real security and there can be no security without a long-term IDF presence," he said.
Netanyahu blamed the Palestinians for stymieing nine months of peace talks. "For nine months we negotiated with the Palestinians, but they consistently refused to engage us on our legitimate security concerns, just as they refused to discuss recognizing Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, while at the same time insisting that Israel recognize a nation-state of the Palestinian people," the prime minister said.
They must truly confront violence and fanaticism within the Palestinian community, he said. The Palestinian leaders fuel extremism rather than confronting it, Netanyahu charged.
"Sticking our head in the sand does not promote real peace," Netanyahu said .
Netanyahu also addressed the recent extension of nuclear talks with Iran, saying that a deal was not signed that would have left Iran a nuclear threshold. "We must now increase the pressure on Iran to dismantle its nuclear weapons capability," he said.
"We are not part of the p5+1, but our voice was heard and helped prevent a bad deal," he contended.
Netanyahu praised the US-Israel relationship saying that the Obama administration showed friendship by providing funding for the Iron Dome.
"Our friends from both parties in the House and the Senate want to strengthen our ties."