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September 25, 2016 2:17 pm

Netanyahu Insists Differences With Obama ‘Not Based on Personal Animosity; Only Surround Issues of Iran, Settlements’

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo: Walla/Screenshot.

Describing his meeting with US President Barack Obama in New York last week, on the sidelines of the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly as “very good, very friendly, very real and very honest,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Hebrew news site Walla on Saturday night that the differences between the two leaders over the past eight years — to the extent that they existed at all — “were not based on personal animosity.”

Contrary to popular belief, Netanyahu said, “I don’t think [any hostility] exists [between us]. There is greater mutual admiration than people think. The controversy surrounded issues, mainly Iran and settlements, perceived to be the obstacle to peace with the Palestinians.”

The best evidence that “all the predictions on the part of self-appointed experts” about soured relations between the White House and Jerusalem have been wrong, Netanyahu said, lies in the $38 billion military-aid package signed earlier this month between the US and Israel. This, he added, shows that the bond is as strong and bipartisan as ever.

Where the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is concerned – and rumors that Obama might take advantage of his lame-duck period after the November 8 US presidential election to make moves detrimental to the Jewish state – Netanyahu said, “We did not speak about the elephant in the room, which was whether Obama will enable an anti-Israel Security Council resolution to pass.”

“In my address [to the UNGA], I quoted Obama’s very decisive statement that the path to peace is not through resolutions from international bodies.” Netanyahu said. “During his entire tenure as president, the only time he exercised his veto was on an anti-Israel Security Council resolution in 2011. So I can only hope that the American administration sticks to what has been its consistent policy over the years.”

When asked by Walla how he would attempt to influence any of the vast array of possible negative scenarios floating around this issue, Netanyahu answered simply, “In various ways.”

Pressed about his viewpoint that settlements do not constitute an obstacle to peace – while key players in the West still see them as such – Netanyahu replied:

It takes time for truth to come to light. It is not true to say that settlements are the root of the conflict and prevent the achieving of an agreement. What prevents an agreement is the refusal of the Palestinians to recognize the nation-state of the Jewish people within any borders. That’s the truth. After all, they had nearly 50 years – from 1920-1967 – during which there were no settlements, yet attacks on us continued throughout the whole period. Why? …When we withdrew from Gaza, they continued firing thousands of missiles at us. Why? If we withdraw to the ’67 borders without their relinquishing the demand for the ‘right of return’ of all refugees and without recognizing the right of the Jewish nation-state to exist, this will continue. That is the root of the conflict.

How can the entire world keep repeating this nonsense? It is a clear fundamental mistake with contemporary historical evidence… How can they perpetuate the nonsense that the root of the conflict in the Middle East is the Palestinian problem?…Was the guy that immolated himself in Tunisia and sparked the Arab Spring thinking about the Palestinian problem? Of course not. Did Libya fall apart because of the Palestinian problem? Yemen? Iraq? Syria? Of course not. These conflicts stem from the enormous struggle going on in the Arab world between forces of tomorrow and yesterday, between modernity and radical Islam… That is the root of the real conflict that is rocking the entire world…

Turning to another favorite topic of Netanyahu’s, Walla asked him how it is that he speaks so much about the Internet and Israeli innovation, when he doesn’t even have a cell phone. How, Walla wanted to know, does he manage to follow what’s going on in cyberspace?

“I am greatly exposed to it, but do not expose myself,” he said. “I follow what’s going on; I read a lot and speak to leaders in the field around the world…”

Then the interviewer asked Netanyahu about his stance on women. “Do you define yourself as a feminist?” she asked.

“The answer is yes, if what you mean by that is that women have equal abilities, and should have the same opportunities as men,” he said, going on to reiterate what he had pointed out in his UN speech about the “absurdity” of the declaration in March by the Commission on the Status of Women singling out Israel for condemnation on this score, “while women are being murdered, raped and enslaved the world over by all kinds of tyrannies.”

This is not to say that there isn’t “room for improvement,” he added, moving on to the subject of his recent bolstering of ties with African countries.

“My vision is to break the automatic anti-Israel majority at the UN …At a pre-General Assembly meeting, one African leader asked me, ‘How do you create the miracle that is the state of Israel? What is in your DNA?’ It is a question I wasn’t prepared for. I told him that our DNA is like an ancient tree whose branches reach to the sky, because of the curiosity that is engraved in our national culture. There are both the roots of the tree, planted deep in our national soil, in our land, and the combination of heritage and innovation [which] is incredibly powerful. Africa recognizes this, so we ought to recognize it as well and bless it.”

Netanyahu concluded his pre-Rosh Hashanah interview by wishing the citizens of Israel a happy new year, “with security, success and – who knows? – maybe even peace.”

Watch the full Hebrew interview below:

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  • Patricia Cheron

    So be it.

  • harry abram

    The Palestianian conflict has never been about land for peace. It is about a religious conflict wherein the Arabs will never recognize Israel’s right to exist. Israel would need to move itself to Africa or some other geographic area. Obama will never understand this!

    • shloime

      more importantly, i don’t think he cares.

      the “big picture” policy decision is to align american foreign policy with the islamists, on the assumption that they are the up-and-coming wave in the region.

      that’s why the administration backed (some might say initiated) the “arab spring”, and all the changes of government from tripoli to ankara. and that’s why obama *didn’t* back democratic movements in iran or turkey.

      israel is just an inconvenient impediment, and why he is “putting daylight” between israel and the united snakes, and why he has *never* condemned fatah or hamas.

      defending israel is a political expedient, not a matter of principle, for obama.

    • Chonye Morozow

      If Israel moves to Africa, it would only make things harder for Muslims to attack and kill Jews.

      Islam preaches hate and annihilation of the Jews; Muslims have attacked Jews way before the modern State of Israel.

      If we want Muslims to stop trying to kill Jews, we have to collaborate with their leaders, to have them stop preaching hate.

      We also need to show strength. If a country’s security is compromised, the country must fight back.

  • Peter Joffe

    Bibi, Obama does not deserve to share a table with you. He is a liar and a cheat and will do anything to further the goals of his hideous religion. Jews don’t ram their beliefs down the throats of others but Muslims like Obama most certainly do. Obama comes from a different planet, never mind world. Obama only does what he has to do for Israel to satisfy American people who vote for civilization and not who vote for stupidity, political correctness and Islam. If Obama had his way the arms would go to Iran but as a second best Obama has managed to give billions of dollars to Iran to be used to kill Bibi’s nation.

  • shloime

    of course it’s not about personal animosity! how could the foreign policy of the united snakes of america revolve around “liking” or “disliking” a foreign head of state? are they running a country or a kindergarten?!

    but obama has used the fiction of “personal animus” as a smokescreen for his muddle east policies. as a cover for his “pivot” to embrace the moslem world, for “putting daylight” between america and its best ally in the region, and to disguise the fact that his policy is based on cooperating with the moslem brotherhood.

    without all the drama of his temper tantrums, americans might even have thought to question why he capitulated to iran on each and every single issue, despite holding all the cards in their negotiations.

    and it helps to have an “echo chamber” which doesn’t ask inconvenient questions.

  • Reb_Yaakov

    My opinion of Netanyahu has risen with the revelation that he does not have a cell phone. Now if he could just eschew social media …

    Of course, it’s true that the PA rejected peace even when there were no settlements. But the settlements are pointless and have given an excuse to the world to blame Israel. If Israel had decided to go for the one-state solution and annex Judea and Samaria, that would be one thing. Instead, it decided to create settlements (I’m not talking about Yerushalayim here) that send the message that Israel wants to take away land from a future Palestinian state or maybe even expel the Arabs, which of course would be illegal.

    The real motivation behind the settlements was Israeli chutzpa — thumbing its nose at everyone else. True, Iran gets away with that kind of thing, but Israel shouldn’t be acting like Iran. The settlement building was ill-conceived, and the declaration by the PA that it wants its future state to be Judenrein could have easily been predicted. Holding onto the disputed territories for now may make sense from a security standpoint, but continued settlement building is counterproductive and an obstacle to peace, both with the surrounding Arab people and with the rest of the world.

    • shloime

      the “settlements” started with the first Zionist aliyah movement. note that the arabs consider ALL jewish homes in israel to be “settlements”.

      the construction of jewish housing is totally irrelevant – israelis were evicted from sinai, posing no impediment to peace, and israelis were evicted from gaza, leading to 3 wars so far, and counting.

      the biggest obstacle to peace is arab intransigence. and nothing else!