Netanyahu: Many Arab Countries Now See Israel as a Friend
by Joshua Levitt
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the Arab world is changing its position on Israel.
In an hour-long interview with Canada’s CTV News Chief Anchor and Senior Editor Lisa LaFlamme ahead of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s visit to Israel, Netanyahu said he is “glad to see the constancy and consistency of Canada’s friendship to Israel” as exemplified by Harper.
He responded to a question about what he thought of those who criticized the Canadian leader for his outspoken support of Israel, by saying, “Those who criticize him are out of sync.”
“They should go to some of the countries in the Middle East who now support Israel, who think about Israel in different terms,” Netanyahu said.
On its website, CTV wrote that Netanyahu explained that “many of Israel’s Arab neighbors share a common goal of peace in the region, as well as concern over a nuclear-armed Iran. Other Arab countries see a bigger threat in hard-line Islamist groups, he said.”
Netanyahu said, “So I say to those who criticize a pro-Israel position in Canada, I ask them, come to the Middle East. Go to the Arab world and you’ll discover, you’ll discover a lot of people are reconsidering their positions,” adding that many Arab countries now “see Israel not as an enemy but as a friend.”
“So when Canada says, ‘Israel is our friend,’ they’re not necessarily alienating the Arabs. Quite the contrary, because the Arabs are changing. The Arabs, many of them, sometimes openly and sometimes in corridors and whispers, they say, ‘Israel is our friend.’ So they don’t view others differently as a result of that.”
To a question of whether increased trade will be a topic of discussion during Harper’s visit, Netanyahu said Canada and Israel “can do a lot together” by sharing technology, and natural and human resources.
On the peace talks with the Palestinian Authority, Netanyahu said “nobody wants peace more than Israel.”
“Now, when we say we want peace, what we want is really for our Palestinian neighbors to have a demilitarized state next to us that recognizes the Jewish State. We’re willing to recognize their state, the Palestinian state. But we ask them to recognize the Jewish state,” Netanyahu said.
“The last thing we want to do is just walk out and have them use that, the Palestinian state to attack what remains of Israel. So I think this is perhaps the pivot to the whole debate… will the Palestinians, as part of peace, recognize the Jewish state as Israel is willing to recognize the Palestinian state. I hope they do. If they do, it’ll afford a better future for us and their children.”
“Now the Palestinian state, the way it’s being contemplated, they’re saying, well, no Jew can live there. It has to be Jew-free. Ethnic cleansing. Well, what is that? There are Arabs who live here, but they can’t contemplate Jews living there,” he said.
“We’re willing to make difficult and hard decisions and compromises to live in peace with our neighbors, but we’re entitled to our own country where Jews from around the world can come here, just as Palestinians from around the world can come to the Palestinian state,” he said.