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Netanyahu’s strategy: Don’t dwell on peace with the Palestinians first

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Netanyahu’s strategy

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said people may be “hooked” on peace talks with the Palestinians, saying he’s opted for a different approach in an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper on Tuesday.

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“When the Arab-Israeli conflict (comes) to an end, I think we will come back to the Palestinians and achieve a viable peace with the Palestinians,” he said.

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Netanyahu’s strategy

Asked by Tapper about the Biden administration’s concerns that settlements in the occupied West Bank could heighten tensions, Netanyahu pointed to the success of the Trump-era Abraham Accords that normalized relations between Israel and several Arab countries.

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“I bypassed them (the Palestinians), went straight to the Arab states and forged a new concept of peace…I forged four historic peace agreements, the Abraham Accords, twice the number of peace agreements that all my predecessors in 70 years combined.

Netanyahu’s strategy

His comments come at a tense time for Israel. Palestinians and Israelis have suffered terrible bloodshed over the past week, and fears are growing that the situation is spiraling out of control. Last Thursday was the deadliest day for Palestinians in the occupied West Bank in nearly two years, followed by a shooting near a Jerusalem synagogue on Friday night – which Israel has called one of its worst terror attacks. of recent years.

Netanyahu’s strategy

The Biden administration has pushed for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but there has been very little movement and apparently little active effort toward that goal by Netanyahu or Palestinian leaders.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (left) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are pictured during a joint press conference on January 30.

Netanyahu’s strategy

Analysts say the Abraham Accords also did nothing to moderate Israel’s stance on the Palestinians. When asked what concession Israel would give to the Palestinian territories, Netanyahu replied: “Well, I am certainly willing to give them all the powers they need to govern themselves. But none of the powers that could threaten (us) and that means Israel should have the primary responsibility for security.

It is hoped that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s trip to Israel and the West Bank this week will help ease rising tensions.

Netanyahu’s strategy

But the two administrations appear to be on opposite sides of the coin when it comes to Israeli settlements. Netanyahu pledged this week that Israel would “strengthen” settlements in response to the firing in Jerusalem, a stance Blinken warned against on Tuesday.

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Tapper urges Netanyahu to propose changing the justice system

Netanyahu’s strategy

Asked about US concerns that Israeli settlement expansion on Palestinian lands could hamper prospects for peace, Netanyahu replied, “Well, I totally disagree.”

Biden and Netanyahu have a complicated relationship, especially over Iran. Netanyahu clashed with former US President Barack Obama over negotiations with the Palestinians, then again more openly over the Iran nuclear deal – which Biden would like to return to.

Netanyahu’s strategy

Netanyahu explained his stance on Iran to Tapper, saying, “If you have rogue regimes that (intend to get) nuclear weapons, you can sign 100 deals with them, that doesn’t help.

“I think the only way to stop or refrain from acquiring nuclear weapons is through a combination of crippling economic sanctions, but the most important thing is a credible military threat,” he said.

Netanyahu’s strategy

Iran has said its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only and has officially halted its weapons program, but US officials have warned that Iran’s uranium enrichment activities have gone well beyond the parameters of the failed 2015 nuclear deal since former US President Trump quit. Last week, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency warned that Tehran had amassed enough material for “several nuclear weapons” and urged diplomatic efforts to restart to prevent such a scenario.

Another point of contention among US allies has been Israel’s ambivalent stance on Ukraine. Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Israel has played a diplomatic balancing act in its relations with Moscow.

Netanyahu’s strategy

Despite officially condemning the invasion and regularly sending aid to Ukraine, Israel has yet to send arms to Ukrainians and has been criticized for not being more forceful in its criticism of Russia. .

Israel does not want to antagonize Russia when the Israeli Air Force seeks to strike targets across the Syrian border. Israel has launched hundreds of strikes against its neighbor in recent years, primarily aimed at disrupting Iran’s supply of precision-guided missile technology to Hezbollah.

Netanyahu’s strategy

Netanyahu referred to this complicated scenario to Tapper, adding that Israel has “taken action against the development of certain weapons” in Iran. He, however, declined to confirm or deny whether Israel was behind the drone attacks on a military factory in Iran’s central city of Isfahan over the weekend.

“I never talk about specific operations… and every time an explosion occurs in the Middle East, Israel is blamed or responsible – sometimes we are, sometimes we are not.”

Netanyahu’s strategy

The wide-ranging interview touched on concerns over Netanyahu’s cabinet, described as the most right-wing and religious cabinet in the country’s history, which has already faced internal tensions and widespread public protests .

Netanyahu’s governing coalition relies on the support of a number of nationalist political figures once relegated to the fringes of Israeli politics.

Netanyahu dismissed concerns about these members’ inflammatory rhetoric and actions, saying, “I have both hands on the wheel.”

Prompted by some of these extreme statements – including reports that Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich has described himself as a “fascist homophobe” – Netanyahu said: “Well, a lot of people say a lot of things when they’re not. not in power. They temper themselves when they come to power. And that is certainly the case here.

Netanyahu accused critics of hypocrisy and not adopting the same objective against his predecessors, while adding: “Listen, I control the government, and I am responsible for its policies, and the policies are sensible and responsible, and continue to be that.”

The six-time prime minister also dismissed criticism of his government’s push for judicial reforms, which would give parliament (and by extension ruling parties) the ability to overrule Supreme Court decisions, appoint judges and removing legal advisers whose legal advice is binding from ministries.

It comes after he was forced to remove his key ally Aryeh Deri from his ministerial posts after the High Court ruled it was unreasonable to appoint the Shas party leader to government posts due to his criminal convictions.

Netanyahu told Tapper he believed the changes would “make democracy stronger.”

His country has seen continuous protests against judicial reforms, drawing tens of thousands of Israelis to the streets in January.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu continues to face charges in three separate cases in a lengthy corruption trial that has dogged him politically. He has repeatedly denied all charges against him and described the trial as a “witch hunt”.

When asked if there was any truth to claims that Netanyahu was trying to override the judiciary because of his own interests, he replied, “That’s not true. None of the reforms we’re talking about…have anything to do with my trial.

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