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Monday, September 21, 2009

Transcript: Television interview with Prime Minister Netanyahu

Communicated by the Prime Minister's Media Adviser

TV Interviewer – What have been the results of recent talks with the American Administration?
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: "I will tell you that they are learning about us, what they are learning about me – that we simply will not give in on the most basic elements related to the security of the country."

TV interviewer, Udi Segal: "…. A few days ago, the UN's Goldstone Commission issued a report that accuses Israel of war crimes. Is there anything that Israel could have done differently to avoid this denigration?"

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: "I do not think so. I know that there are other opinions but I do not think so for one simple reason – this game was fixed. This was a field trial, the result of which was known in advance. Look at the mandate which this commission operated under, a mandate which – by the way – most Western countries opposed and had reservations about. From this mandate, they say in advance that Israel carried out war crimes and now they are filling in the blanks. The occupation of Gaza! We left Gaza down to the last centimeter. We dismantled the settlements. We burned the greenhouses. We uprooted our brothers. There were those who said, "Good, this will bring peace." Others said, "Maybe this will not bring peace but the international community will give us full legitimacy as soon as there is the first missile."

Then there was the first missile, and the second and the thousandth. There were thousands of missiles and finally Israel responded, as is its right, against the terrorists who hide inside civilian populations and fire at civilian populations. Now the same international public that applauded when we left there points an accusing finger and accuses us and not Hamas, of being war criminals. Therefore, I tell the international community, I will speak with prominent world leaders in the coming days. I will tell them: You say that you support our right of self-defense, that we took risks for peace and that you would support our right of self-defense, don't tell me that this will be after the next agreement. Tell me now. Now, line up to condemn this report and act to block its consequences now, not afterwards."

Interviewer, Yonit Levy: "Do you think that there is a chance that soldiers and officers who participated in this operation will be accused in courts around the world?""

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: "First of all, this is their intention; it's crystal clear. First, I will tell the world leaders that they are also suffering from terrorism. It is not just our problem because if IDF officers, commanders, soldiers and pilots, and even [Israeli] leaders, will be accused, you also will be accused. What, NATO will not fight in various places? Russia will not fight in various places?"

Udi Segal: "If there are such good claims and the IDF is the most moral army in the world, then why not sit with the Commission and explain it to them?"

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: "Because often this UN was, and to my regret, has gone back to being, how should I put it, a fixed game. This report encourages terrorists and hurts the natural right of countries to defend themselves."

Israel TV Channel 10
Interviewer Micky Heimovitz: "Are you genuinely worried over what Israel can expect following the UN report? Do you know how we can stop this avalanche? How do we prevent this from reaching The Hague or a UN discussion on the issue?
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: "First of all by saying clearly that this report is tendentious and biased, that its end result was determined before it started. This field trial decided to convict Israel in any case.

Micky Heimovitz: "In retrospect, was it correct not to cooperate?"
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: "Indeed yes. Because I saw its mandate. I was very much convinced that the mandate of this UN commission was specially set up against us and many countries opposed this mandate. The main western countries opposed the mandate because it was clear that it already accused us of war crimes even before it began. They are accusing us. Now see the distortion here. First, this is a prize for terrorism and encourages terrorism. There is something much deeper here. See what happened with the disengagement. They told us that if we left, some said there would be peace. Some said that if there wasn't peace, at least we will have international legitimacy that if they fire one missile, we would be able to strike at them with full force. They fired one missile, two missiles, three missiles, 1,000 missiles, 2,000 missiles and in the end, the State of Israel, when it could take no more, acted and it acted in the most measured way we knew. We could be compared to other countries that acted when it was attacked by many missiles. The second thing is that they certainly need to understand that there is a threat to democracy here. If the terrorists, these war criminals, both fire at civilians and hide behind civilians, this is a double war crime. If they receive a prize and the attacked becomes the aggressor, then it will also happen to you. NATO is fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq while Russia is also fighting in various places. The countries that are fighting terrorism must understand that this report hurts not only us but them as well. It hurts peace. It hurts security. Therefore, this report is harmful and biased and we reject it outright. There must be a very strong response by the responsible countries in the world."

Yaakov Elon: "Six months in office Mr. Netanyahu, there is this report. Friction with the US is very prominent. Your Foreign Minister is ready to open fronts with countries in the world. Again the world is against us?"
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: "No, part of the world is explicitly with us. Many governments are with us. I could tell you that I was pleased that after a certain decline that we had in the US after Operation Cast Lead, according to surveys that Stanley Greenberg showed me, and he monitors this, our situation in the US has very much improved in recent months. This is good. There is also support beyond the US. Let us not be mistaken. However, there is hostility to us and to our country. I think that Foreign Minister Liberman was 100% correct, in contrast to what is believed or usually said. He attacks anti-Semitism. That IDF soldiers traffic in organs, this is a blood libel."

Yaakov Elon: "A remark has been attributed to you to the effect that Obama's Jewish advisers, Rahm Emmanuel and David Axelrod are self-hating Jews. Is there truth in this?"
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: "This is a lie. I did not say this; I did not say this. Neither do I think it. I think that, first of all, their Jewishness is not relevant in this case. It is their private matter. They are, first of all, US citizens. They are the President's advisers and I am certainly not going to classify them."

Yaakov Elon: "Then where is the problem?"
Micky Heimovitz: "You spoke of the support that you see in the US but we are under the impression that Israel-US relations have never been at a lower point. How did we get to the point where Obama dictates to us?"
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: "I think that first of all, nobody dictates. I must tell you. But, we are trying to work together. We are learning to get to know each other and are learning to adapt ourselves to a changing reality that, by the way, is in both directions. There are new administrations here and there."

Yaakov Elon: "He's learning a little?"
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: "We are working together and we will work together better, of this I have no doubt. I will tell you that they are learning about us, what they are learning about me – that we simply will not give in on the most basic elements related to the security of the country."
At least on these points, his head seems to be on pretty straight. Of course, this interview doesn't cover everything by any stretch. The words 'settlement freeze' aren't even mentioned, nor for that matter are the 'Palestinians' except indirectly in the context of the Goldstone Commission.

Iran isn't mentioned either, which tells you that Israel's media may not get it yet.


The source for this interview, which I received by email, is here.


At 8:04 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

I think two things stand out: No one in Israel is talking about Iran and Ehud Barak played the good cop over the weekend. Israel is trying to get Iran to lower its guard. The sudden official silence does not mean Israel has resigned itself to the reality of a nuclear Iran. Just the opposite. In the Middle East, appearances can be deceiving.


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