The world is being testing by Iran’s nuclear program and the results are thus far inconclusive, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Washington Post Thursday.
“I think that we’re all [being] tested, all of us. And the jury is out on all of us, on whether we muster the resolve to prevent this from happening,” he said in an interview with the newspaper.
Calling the Islamic Republic the “greatest threat to peace and stability in the world since the mid-20th century,” Netanyahu addressed the country’s recent election of the moderate politician Hassan Rohani.
“I think the elections reflect a deep dissatisfaction of the Iranian people with its regime. Unfortunately, this result doesn’t have the power to change Iran’s nuclear ambitions. These are determined not by the elected president but by the so-called supreme leader, [Ayatollah Ali] Khamenei,” he said.
Asked about recent efforts by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to relaunch stalled peace talks between the Israelis and the Palestinian Authority, Netanyahu didn’t mince words.
“I think we should stop negotiating about the negotiations. I think we should just get on with it,” he said, adding, “We should enter immediately into negotiations without preconditions. That’s been my view for the last four years, and I hope it becomes the Palestinian view.”
He continued his criticism of the Palestinian demand to impose preconditions on talks, saying: “I think placing preconditions before negotiations is the quickest way to undermine peace. That’s what has been done in the past four years and we’ve gotten nowhere. It’s time to look at a different course. It’s time to grapple head-on with the issues and negotiate.”
Pressed by the Post as to why he refuses to place a freeze on settlements, Netanyahu pointed to the ineffectiveness of an earlier attempt to do so which failed to produce results, and added that he believes the international community has become “fixated” with the issue.
“I think it proved that the problem wasn’t a settlement freeze. The problem isn’t the settlements. That’s an issue that will have to be solved in negotiations. But what’s the real reason this conflict has not been solved and has been going on for years before we had a single settlement? And after we left Gaza and tore up the settlements, the conflict continued.”
The need for peace hinges on Israel not becoming a bi-national state, Netanyahu said, adding that even if a sustainable peace is reached, he still believes Israel will remain a pariah to many.
“The horrible distortions that people believed about the Jewish people they now believe about the Jewish state. I don’t think that’s materially going to change,” he concluded.