Netanyahu: I support the people of Iran who are standing up to real terror

Bibi’s Likud currently holds 29 seats in the Knesset and is still Israel’s largest single party ahead of the November election


Leader of the Opposition and head of the Likud party Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to the media in Tel Aviv on October 3, 2022. Photo by Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90 *** Local Caption *** יו"ר הליכוד מצודת זאב מסיבת עיתונאים בנימין נתניהו מדבר

Appearing on US political talk show Real Time with Bill Maher on Friday, former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu outlined his reasoning for seeking peace with Arab states ahead of any deal with the Palestinians and voiced his support for Iranian people in the recent anti-hijab demonstrations. 

Host Bill Maher asked the Likud party leader: “Now that there are settlements of Israelis numbering close to 700,000 in the West Bank and [east] Jerusalem, is a two-state solution still a realistic solution to the future?” 

“The main problem between Israel and the Palestinians is not the settlements,” Mr Netanyahu said. “It’s the persistent Palestinian refusal to recognise the Jewish State and any boundary.” 

According to Mr Netanyahu, the internationally advised strategy towards peace for at least the last quarter of a century was to deal with the Palestinians before approaching the broader Arab world. Advocates of this strategy included, according to Mr Netanyahu, former US Secretary of State John Kerry, who received a standing ovation after he said it. 

Mr Netanyahu said: “The problem with that is that the Palestinians don’t want peace. They don’t want peace with Israel, they want peace without Israel. They don’t want a state next to Israel, they want a state instead of Israel. 

“The Palestinians constitute about one per cent of the Arab world. The way to get peace is to go to the 99 per cent and then we’ll get back to the one per cent and see if we can stop this Palestinian rejectionism of a Jewish state.” 

Mr Netanyahu referenced four recent peace agreements between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco, and Sudan as evidence of the success of this strategy. 

“We can complete the expansion of this peace and, if I’m elected in a few weeks, I intend to do that. 

“The people who are talking about going into the Palestinian rabbit hole, you’re basically going to wait another quarter of a century before anything moves. I don’t want to wait a quarter of a century. I want to solve the Arab-Israeli conflict and then solve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, in that order.”  

During the interview Mr Maher brought up the allegation of apartheid made by, among others, sitting American members of Congress against Israel, which Mr Netanyahu called a “bogus charge”. 

The allegation is thrown around flippantly, especially from the Palestinians, who, Mr Netanyahu said, “oppress gays, oppress women, and are in league with Iran. Iran, who is tormenting its citizens and suppressing women over there. 

“If I have to say anything, the place where they [critics] should direct their fire is at the Iranian regime. And they should support the brave women of Iran who are showing the world what courage is. That’s where I am: I’m supporting the people of Iran who are standing up to real terror.” 

Asked, with tongue-in-cheek, about Israel’s response to Kanye West’s recent antisemitic post, Mr Netanyahu responded: “Israel has dealt with bigger problems than Ye’s stupidity”, referencing West’s sobriquet. 

Israel is set to have legislative elections on November 1. It will be the country’s fifth election in two years due to political deadlock. 

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