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June 3, 2019 3:34 pm

Netanyahu Downplays Widening US Partisan Divide on Israel Support

avatar by Algemeiner Staff

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures during a weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, April 14, 2019. Photo: Reuters / Ronen Zvulun / File.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday downplayed the growing partisanship in the US surrounding support for Israel.

In a video interview broadcast at the annual American Jewish Committee (AJC) Global Forum in Washington, DC, the longtime Israeli leader — who is now facing re-election again in September — said, “I don’t think there’s a big difference between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party as I have known it over the years on these issues.”

Referring specifically to the Democratic Party, Netanyahu noted, “The people that I know there are staunch supporters of Israel, and I hope it will remain the same. If it changes, that obviously will concern us. I think it should concern everyone.”

Netanyahu recalled that despite his disagreements with former Democratic President Barack Obama, “at the same time the two of us signed a memorandum of understanding that enabled Israel to get very generous American military assistance over the next decade.”

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“And I’m very appreciative of that,” the prime minister added.

Regarding a potential future peace deal with the Palestinians, Netanyahu reiterated that Israel must retain security control over the entire area west of the Jordan River.

Israel, he stated, cannot permit what occurred in the Gaza Strip, where Hamas took over two years after Israel pulled out from the coastal enclave, to “happen in the center of the country in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank).”

“That will spell the end to Israel,” Netanyahu warned. “Israel will have to have the overriding security responsibility, both for our sake, the security of Israel, but paradoxically also for the security of the Palestinians. If we don’t maintain that responsibility, the Palestinian Authority will be overthrown in two seconds by militant Islam.”

Asked about the state of Israel-Diaspora relations, Netanyahu said, “Our whole purpose is to be a home for all the Jews who want to see Israel as their home. Israel should be connected to the Jewish people around the world. It should be a place where they can come and live if they so choose, to be a place that welcomes them in any case because we have a great common history and a common destiny in many ways. The more we can keep this bond, the better it is both for Israel and Diaspora Jews.”

“If you want to maintain your Jewish identity, then you have a stake in the State of Israel because Israel is the great guarantor of Jewish identity,” Netanyahu went on to say. “If you’re interested in Jewish identity, support Israel.”

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