PM says Sinai is new "Wild West"

Netanyahu says Israel-Egypt cooperating on issue that also concerns Cairo; PM is neither afraid, nor eager, for new elections.

By
April 24, 2012 19:42
2 minute read.
Sinai mountains, Beduin

Sinai mountains, Beduin_370. (photo credit: Reuters)

 
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Sinai is turning into the "wild west," something that is of great concern to both Israel and Egypt, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said in an Israel Radio interview broadcast Tuesday.

Over the last few years, Netanyahu said, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and al-Qaida  have, with the help of Iran, used Sinai to smuggle arms and as a base for  attacks on Israel, as was evident last August with the terrorist attack near Eilat.  

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"We are taking action to deal with this reality, and we are taking action – by the way – in cooperation and continuous discussion with the Egyptian government, which is also concerned about this," he said.

Netanyahu, who in the interview reiterated his position that the recent cutoff of Egyptian gas was a commercial and legal issue, not a political one, said he hoped that whoever becomes the future president of Egypt will honor the peace agreement with Israel because it is in Egypt's interest, as much as in Israel's.

Regarding Iran, Netanyahu said in an Army Radio interview also broadcast Tuesday, that two things were clear, and were agreed upon by US President Barack Obama: Iran must not get nuclear arms, and Israel has the right to defend itself, by itself, against any threat.

As to the timeline regarding when Israel's patience might run out with Iran, the Prime Minister repeated what he has said in the past: this is not a matter "of days, but also not a matter of years."

Netanyahu artfully dodged an Israel Radio question about whether he thought Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was a "partner."

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"First of all I think there is a partner on this side, on the Israeli side, I am a partner for peace talks, for peace negotiations and also for a pace arrangement," he said.  He added that it was a mistake for the Palestinians to set pre-conditions for talks with this government that it did not set for any other government over the last 18 years.

"In order to achieve peace I don't know any other way then to sit across from one another and conduct serious talks, perhaps far from the eye of the media, in order to try and find a solution," he said.

Netanyahu did not evade questions about the possibility of new elections, and about the "smell of elections in the air," saying that he is neither eager, nor afraid, of new elections.

"If this will be forced on me because of the circumstances, because the coalition comes to the end of the road and falls apart, then I will certainly go for it," he said. "I am not worried about elections."

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