In the wake of European allies such as Britain, France, and Germany publicly slamming the Israeli government’s construction plans, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stressed that the root of the Arab-Israeli conflict lies not in Israeli construction, but in the Arab refusal to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist.
“We must constantly repeat that the root of the conflict is the very existence of the State of Israel, the refusal to recognize the State of Israel in any borders whatsoever,” he said at Israel’s National Public Diplomacy Forum on Tuesday, according to Israel National News.
Netanyahu used his forum address to summarize Israel’s accomplishments during the recent Operation Pillar of Defense.
“What was the war about?” he asked. “The war was about our very existence. We left areas that we captured in the Six Day War, like the Gaza Strip, and they fire missiles at us.”
Israel’s “top public diplomacy mission” is “to explain that the root of this conflict is not territorial,” Netanyahu said.
“It is over our very existence in any borders whatsoever,” he said.
Netanyahu’s statements come amid his government’s announcement that it will build 3,000 additional housing units in the E1 section between Jerusalem and Maaleh Adumim. In response, the UK, France and Sweden summoned the Israeli ambassadors in London, Paris and Stockholm to explain the Israeli government’s position. Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, “let me reiterate that this administration—like previous administrations—has been very clear with Israel that these activities set back the cause of a negotiated peace.”
“The root of the conflict is not the settlements; it is the very existence of the State of Israel and the desire to wipe it off the face of the earth,” Netanyahu said.
For 45 years since the 1967, Arabs “day in, day out, and hour by hour, have been preaching the complete opposite” of Israel’s right to exist, he added.