Netanyahu: 'We have to fight terrorism, like we fought the Nazis'

Prime minister speaks at Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference, saying it is "ridiculous" to blame the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for the turmoil in the region.

Herb Keinon interviews PM Benjamin Netanyahu
The international community must fight radical Islamic terrorism like it once fought the Nazis during World World II, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday during an interview with Jerusalem Post diplomatic correspondent Herb Keinon.
“You are not going to change them. You will not win them over. You will not pacify them. The only way to defeat them is the way you defeated Nazism,” Netanyahu said during the 40-minute interview at the fourth annual Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference in Jerusalem.
Before the start of the interview, Netanyahu stood on the stage with the French ambassador to Israel, Patrick Maisonnave, for a moment of silence in memory of the more than 130 victims of ISIS-based terrorist attacks in France in the last week.
"Terrorism is always evil," says PM Netanyahu. "Palestinians here, or Islamist in Paris are all equally guilty.
"In Jerusalem today we stand with the people of Paris. The people of Israel stand with the people of France. Ambassador, this is not a figurative stance, it's not just lip service,” Netanyahu said.
“First of all, we stand and we do not fall…We stand shoulder to shoulder, committed to defend our common civilization.
“It’s difficult for civilized men and women to recognize that our cities, our airways, sometimes our waterways are prowled by beasts that devour the innocent in their way.
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“The beasts increasingly have a name – it is radical Islam. That is what is doing the killing, the murder, the rape, the burning, the beheadings.
“We must stand together and fight together militant Islam. The people of Israel grieve with you, the people of Israel stand with you. Now and always,” Netanyahu told Maisonnave.
During his interview with Keinon, he dismissed attempts by some in the international community to justify or understand terrorists acts whether in France in the last week, or in Israel.
“There are no good terrorists, only bad terrorists,” Netanyahu said.
“Terrorism is a deliberate and systematic targeting of innocent civilians for political or ideological means,” he said and added, “it is always a war crime.”
Moral clarity is needed to fight terrorism, said Netanyahu, as he explained that many of such acts today are perpetrated by radicalized Muslims.
“The enemy is militant Islam. The method is terrorism,” he said,
“What is the system to fight them? Identify them and then fight them,” he said.
Comments late last week by Sweden’s Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom linking ISIS-backed attacks in France with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, were part of a misguided belief that terrorism can be pacified, Netanyahu said.
It was also, he said, a “fundamental misunderstanding of the source of terrorism,” Netanyahu said.
There is a battle in the Arab world between modernity and early medievalism that has risen to the surface in the absence of authoritarian state systems, he said.
Separately, he said, there is a century old struggle between Jewish and Palestinian nationalism, with the Palestinians refusing to accept that Israel is the homeland for the Jewish people.
“Lately this Palestinian rejectionism has become confused with militant Islam," Netanyahu said. He added that the Palestinian people who live in Gaza are now governed by militant Islamists.
For a long time, he said, the larger Middle Eastern conflict within Islam was subsumed by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
When one spoke about a conflict in the Middle East, one spoke about the Israeli-Palestinian one and it was referred to by a singular word, conflict, to reflect an understanding that there weren’t a number of conflicts in the Middle East, but rather there was only one conflict, Netanyahu said.
The idea that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the source of violence in the Middle East “is ridiculous,” Netanyahu said.
“It was always ridiculous but it is particularly ridiculous today,” he said.
Israel, he said, is not to blame for Palestinian attacks against it, or for the newest absurd charge that Israel is to blame for global Islamic-based terrorism, he said.
“We are not to blame, any more than the people of Paris are to blame,” he said.
“Now there is a new twist not just that we are to blame for the terrorism that is directed against us, but we are to blame for the terrorism directed against them,” Netanyahu said.
“That is an absurdity that is comical if it were not so tragic,” he added.
What is true, he said, is that a strong and democratic Israel is one of the main safeguards against the spread of militant Islam in the Middle East, Netanyahu said. 
“We are not the cause we are the obstacle,” Netanyahu said.
But Europe holds Israel liable for the conflict, Netanyahu said. This belief, he said, was expressed in its decision to publish guidelines this month that provided member states with instructions to label products produced over the pre-1967 lines as non-Israeli.
The EU is solely singing out Israel because it is the only country for which the EU has produced such guidelines; out of the 200 engaged in territorial conflicts in the world, Netanyahu said.
"They say it's because of their frustration [over lack of progress toward Israeli-Palestinian peace]," the prime minister said. "We've been fighting for our lives for 100 years.
“This is absolutely absurd and morally abhorrent because on the soil of Europe within living memory, Jewish products were labeled, Jewish stores were labeled,” Netanyahu said as he invoked the Holocaust.
The Europeans are “frustrated that the conflict with the Palestinians is not resolved?” he asked ironically.
“We’re frustrated it isn’t resolved,” he said.
The premier explained that he has repeatedly failed to convince Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to sit down and negotiate with him.
Since he took office in 2009, Netanyahu said, Abbas has spoken with him for less than seven hours.
“It used to be that we were accused of the lack of diplomatic progress. I think that people are waking up to the fact that he will not negotiate,” Netanyahu said.
He explained that he would start talks without pre-conditions, but he would not conclude them without securing Palestinian acceptance of Israel as a Jewish state.
Peace can only be forged through negotiations, he said, particularly given that any resolution would have to allow a continued Israeli military presence in the West Bank.
Israel has learned from Gaza and Lebanon, that terrorism moves in when it walks out, he said.
But even without political progress, it is possible to move forward, including with unilateral steps, with regard to security and economic issues, he said.
“There are all sorts of unilateral moves, in all sorts of directions. They are not necessarily in the direction you think,” Netanyahu said.
“Can you be a little bit more specific?” Keinon asked.
“No,” Netanyahu answered.
Jpost staff contributed to this report.