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At UN, Israel’s Netanyahu says conflict is ‘not about settlements’ but existence of a Jewish State

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel addresses the general debate of the General Assembly’s seventieth session.
UN Photo/Cia Pak
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel addresses the general debate of the General Assembly’s seventieth session.

At UN, Israel’s Netanyahu says conflict is ‘not about settlements’ but existence of a Jewish State

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has never been about settlements, or about establishing a Palestinian state, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the United Nations General Assembly today, saying “it’s always been about the existence of a Jewish State […] in any boundary.”

“The State of Israel is ready, I am ready to negotiate all final status, but one thing I will never negotiate is the right to the one and only Jewish state,” he said, inviting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to speak to the Israeli people at the Knesset in Jerusalem and “gladly” offering to speak to the Palestinian parliament in Ramallah.

Taking the Assembly podium shortly after Mr. Abbas has said 'Our hand remains outstretched for making peace' but questioned if Israeli leaders desired a true peace free from expansionism, Mr. Netanyahu stressed that “the issue of settlements is a real one” that can and must be resolved in final status negotiations.

But, he said, nearly 70 years after Israel’s rebirth the Palestinians still refuse to recognize its rights – “not our right to a homeland, not our right to a state, not our right to anything. And this remains the true core of the conflict, the persistent Palestinian refusal to recognize the Jewish state in any boundary. You see, this conflict is not about the settlements. It never was,” he said.

“When the Palestinians finally say 'yes' to a Jewish State, we will be able to end this conflict once and for all, because, see, the Palestinians are not only trapped in the past, their leaders are poisoning the future,” he added, accusing them of brainwashing their children, with officials calling on them “to slit the throats of Israelis wherever you find them,” he said.

Mr. Netanyahu quoted Mr. Abbas himself as saying 'we welcome every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem,' and quoted senior Palestinian official Jibril Rajoub as saying that if he had a nuclear bomb, he’d detonate it over Israel.

“This conflict rages because for the Palestinians, the real settlements they’re after are Haifa, Jaffa and Tel Aviv,” he declared. “So I call on President Abbas: you have a choice to make. You can continue to stoke hatred as you did today or you can finally confront hatred and work with me to establish peace between our two peoples.”

Mr. Netanyahu saved some of his most scathing remarks for UN bodies, which he accused of constant bias, conjuring up the image of their waging virtual war against Israel. “I have one message for you today: Lay down your arms,” he said.

“The UN, begun as a moral force, has become a moral farce,” he declared, citing “the disgrace” of the General Assembly which last year passed 20 resolutions against Israel and just three against all the other countries.

“And what about the joke called the UN Human Rights Council, which each year condemns Israel more than all the countries of the world combined. As women are being systematically raped, murdered, sold into slavery across the world, which is the only country that the UN’s Commission on Women chose to condemn this year?,” he said.

“Yep, you guessed it – Israel. Israel. Israel where women fly fighter jets, lead major corporations, head universities, preside – twice – over the Supreme Court, and have served as Speaker of the Knesset and Prime Minister,” he continued.

“And this circus continues at UNESCO. UNESCO, the UN body charged with preserving world heritage. Now, this is hard to believe but UNESCO just denied the 4,000 year connection between the Jewish people and its holiest site, the Temple Mount. That’s just as absurd as denying the connection between the Great Wall of China and China,” said Mr. Netanyahu.

But he said he was very optimistic about Israel’s “bright future” at the UN because all this negativity was quickly ending as more and more nations in Asia, Africa and Latin America see Israel as a potent partner in fighting the terrorism of today and developing the technology of tomorrow in agriculture, health, water, cyber and the fusion of big data, connectivity and artificial intelligence.