Breaking the Palestinian veto was a game-changer, says the prime minister in a Channel 20 interview.
By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the just-signed Abraham Accords with the UAE and Bahrain signals the end of the Arab-Israeli conflict in the Middle East, in an exclusive interview with Channel 20 Tuesday evening.
“This is a turning point in history in that the Palestinian veto has been broken that for a quarter of a century prevented us from achieving peace. Now the dam has been broken,” he told interviewers Lital Shemesh and Boaz Golan.
It took 26 years to get from the peace treaty with Jordan to the one with the UAE but only 29 days to get to the next deal, with Bahrain, he noted.
“That’s a very big change. It’s the beginning of the process of reconciliation, or the end of Israel’s conflict with the Arab countries. And other countries will join, as President Trump said. We’re working on it.”
When asked if Saudi Arabia will be the next to sign onto the Abraham Accords, he first joked, “I assume that Syria won’t be the next country, not at this stage.”
“You noticed that two and a half years ago, Saudi Arabia allowed planes coming from India to Israel to fly over its territory and then return. You understand that this did not happen by chance,” he said.
“My goal was to open up the Arab world and break the statement that everyone nodded in agreement with afterwards, like a flock of sheep – even just a month ago – that, ‘Israel cannot reach peace agreements with Arab countries without accepting the all the dictates of the Palestinians.’”
“I formulated the complete opposite: The way is to first break into the Arab world and gradually bring the Palestinians to understand that if they want to join this circle, they will have to be the ones to change their policies… And today, many people are eating their hats,” Netanyahu said.
The prime minister flatly denied the UAE’s claim that the Palestinian issue and their supposed rights were part of the normalization deal, saying, “You’ll see the agreement. There are no such conditions [related to the Palestinians]… It is peace for peace. It is peace out of power, because a weak, shrunken, head-bowing and apologetic Israel would not have achieved anything – and didn’t achieve anything,” he said.
Netanyahu took credit for building Israel into a hi-tech, free market power that has “created an economic-technological and military intelligence revolution” that “all the countries of the world” want to ally themselves with. His rivals, he said, are still touting “peace out of weakness, out of apology, out of ‘have pity on us’… that doesn’t work.”
When the interviewer asked if the Palestinians have missed the train, Netanyahu answered, “[Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas] is not even ready yet to recognize the Balfour Declaration, which was a hundred years ago. The train is leaving, but all the while they’re staying at a station that is steadily getting further and further away.”
The Balfour Declaration that called for the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine was affirmed by the San Remo Conference after World War I giving it the standing of international law. It was then ratified by the League of Nations and then reaffirmed by its replacement, the United Nations, thereby giving it international legal standing at least thrice over.
According to Netanyahu, the Right’s claim that he gave up the right to apply Israeli law over parts of Judea and Samaria in exchange for the peace deal is incorrect.
Taking the credit for the idea even appearing in the Trump peace plan, he first said the United States asked that Israel delay applying sovereignty and “no Israeli government” would move forward without their ally’s agreement on such an issue. But, he added, the extent of the delay was left undefined, and said, “I have not given up on the idea and I hope that we can get to it soon.”
He also denied the accusation that the government has stopped building in the region, as evidenced by the fact that the Higher Planning Council that approves construction in Judea and Samaria hasn’t met since February.
“We are building, developing the settlements,” he said. He then added, “but we are building peace agreements with the Arab world. An incredible thing.”