In his first interview since Israel’s Knesset election Tuesday, Benjamin Netanyahu seemed to backtrack on far right statements many believe helped him to win re-election.
In a sit down with MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell, the Israeli prime minister said he still supports a two state solution, despite contradictory remarks just days earlier.
“I haven’t changed my policy,” Netanyahu said. “I never retracted my speech at Bar Ilan University six years ago calling for a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes a Jewish state.”
In 2009, Bibi famously spoke of his support for the creation of a Palestinian state, in a speech that has come to be heralded as a new wave of Likud politics.
However, it was only this week that Netanyahu spoke strongly against a two-state solution in a rallying address to supporters pre-vote, declaring there would never be a Palestine under his watch.
“What has changed is the reality,” he continued on MSNBC today. “Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas], the Palestinian leader, refuses to recognize the Jewish state and has made a pact with Hamas that calls for the destruction of the Jewish state, and every territory that is vacated today in the Middle East is taken up by Islamist forces. We want that to change so that we can realize a vision of real, sustained peace. I don’t want a one-state solution. I want a sustainable, peaceful two-state solution, but for that, circumstances have to change.”
Netanyahu also qualified statements he made Tuesday about Arab voters in Israel, which some categorized as borderline or even overtly racist.
“I am very proud to be prime minister of all of Israel’s citizens, Arabs and Jews alike,” he said, going on to explain he was warning of the dangers of foreign interests in the form of NGO money being used to influence elections.
The issue of Israel’s relationship with America, specifically the White House, was also addressed, in the wake of Bibi’s address before Congress earlier this month, which had been characterized by some as an insult to President Obama.
“We’ll work together – we have to – because we have no other alternatives. We’re allies,” Netanyahu said.
“We have to consult each other, not have fiats or unilateral impositions but negotiated peace with our neighbors and support between allies, and America has no greater ally than Israel and Israel has no greater ally than the United States.”