A Conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Benjamin Netanyahu at Center for American Progress, November 10, 2015. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke yesterday at the Center for American Progress.   
Here are excerpts from his remarks.
On Monday’s meeting with Obama:
“We have no disagreement now about what we need to do moving forward…  Number one: hold Iran’s feet to the fire
“The President and I focused yesterday on an MOU that is a long term understanding between Israel and the United States on American military assistance to Israel that is critical for us and I appreciated his willingness not only to move forward on that but also on assuring Israe’s military qualitative edge, because as you know there are other countries in the region that are receiving a tremendous amount of military assistance, and it’s very important that Israel always have if not the quantitative edge, the qualitative edge…
On his largesse to Arab communities in Israel:

“I put in, I don’t know, 30-40 million shekels…  and then I proceeded in my administrations to give billions of shekels, billions of shekels to the Arab sector… [I] put in a lot of money, and I do this personally.  After the election, this is my fourth term, we put in close to a billion shekels – now! – just now…  It comes also from the political philosophy, you’ll be surprised to hear, that I follow.  Especially the teachings of Ze’ev Jabotinsky…”

On Israel’s bright future:

“Israel has turned into a technological powerhouse, we’re entering – we’re in – a century of… geometric growth and Israel is growing geometrically by design… in 2014 Israel received 10% of the global investment in cybersecurity, in 2015 that number doubled… that’s an astounding figure, it also shows exponential growth… Another example: water.  We’ve solved our water problem…   Since the year of our independence our GDP per capita has grown 40 times…  We are getting alliances, this may not be understood in Western Europe, but here’s what is happening, I’m so ‘isolated’  that as Foreign Minister and Prime Minister I don’t have time to see my own Knesset Members… because I have diplomats and  heads of state coming from Asia, from Africa, from Latin America… I’m talking about small countries like China… they all want three things: first, Israeli technology; second, Israeli technology; third, Israeli technology…”

Gaza is a “Palestinian State”:
“Why is it that we don’t have peace? Why?… The underlying problem preventing peace is… after Gaza, Israeli’s ask a question, ‘what happens when we set up a Palestinian state on the other side, do we get a state that lives in peace with us?’…  Israel… left Gaza to the last square centimeter… handed the keys over to Abu Mazen…  The same thing happened to us in Lebanon…
“These are not conditions for entering talks, I have no conditions for entering talks… I am willing to enter the talks without any conditions… You have to make sure that the Palestinian state that is formed is not committed to Israel’s destruction, that it ends all demands, recognizes Israel and doesn’t seek to flood it with the descendants of refugees [“droves”!]…  We need a long term security presence of Israel… “

Question: “What do you say to those concerns that settlement expansion is actually making peace more difficult”

There have been no new settlements built in the last twenty years and even before…  We’re not ‘gobbling up land’ because it [expansion] doesn’t take up any land… maybe three tenths of one percent…  The real issue is… when I say to Abu Mazen, ‘For God’s sake, recognize the Jewish State already’ …he won’t do it.”
“This [the West Bank] is not foreign land – I know it’s comfortable to say that ‘this is the Belgian Congo’ – for God’s sake, Jews have been living there for 4000 years, so are Arabs, I don’t say “we throw you out.”  There is massive Arab construction, massive, massive, that is against Oslo…  the idea of a Palestinian state: “it’s got to be Judenrein, it’s got to be clean, there can’t be any Jews there” – what is this? what kind of standard is this?…”
Question: “There’s a concern that settler violence has not been prosecuted, that the vast majority of cases of settler violence against Palestinians has not been prosecuted, what do you say to that?”
“That’s not true.  We don’t have a policy like that in fact.  First of all look at the violence, the relative degrees of violence… [episodes of violence done to settlers are enumerated] I’ve seen horrible things so there’s no comparison…  There are many ‘Duma’s’ on the Palestinian side of the ledger [meaning crimes against settlers – “Duma” a reference to the Palestinian family burned alive by settler youth]”
Responding to a question from Mort Halperin (J Street), Netanyahu says: 

“There’s the question of Jerusalem and specifically the Temple Mount, I think it’s insoluble.  I mean I just don’t see right now a solution for that.  I think it has to remain under Israeli sovereignty and that’s the only way to prevent this from exploding into sectorial [sic] strife.”