Netanyahu to Megyn: I Worry Every Day for Survival of Israel
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sat down today with Megyn Kelly, just 48 hours after his hard-fought re-election.
The two discussed a two-state solution, a nuclear weapons deal with Iran, and the difference between being president of the United States and prime minister of Israel.
Netanyahu appeared to walk back his remarks this week about opposing a two-state solution. He told Kelly that he didn't retract anything he said in his 2009 speech, in which he said he supported a peace deal. Netanyahu said he still wants a demilitarized Palestinian state to recognize a Jewish state, but that the conditions today are not achievable. Netanyahu said we must get the Palestinians back at the negotiation table, where they must break their pact with Hamas and accept the idea of a Jewish state.
Kelly questioned Netanyahu on reports that President Barack Obama sees no path to a peace agreement and is threatening to abandon Israel at the United Nations.
"I hope that's not true, and I think that President Obama has said time and time again, as I've said, that the only path to a peace agreement is an agreement, a negotiated agreement. You can't impose it," he said.
Netanyahu added that Israel can’t be forced to accept terms that would endanger its very survival.
“I don't think that's the direction of American policy,” he said. “I hope it's not.”
Kelly cited an AP report which states that the draft of a nuclear deal with Iran would force the Iranians to cut its centrifuges by just 40 percent. She asked: Are we conceding too much?
Netanyahu called for a different and better deal, explaining that the current deal would leave Iran with sufficient capabilities.
“If Israel had a seat on the table, I would say zero centrifuges. But I don’t have a seat on the table,” he said.
Netanyahu said that the deal should offer a “symbolic” number of centrifuges and should not include a sunset clause. Rather, restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program should not be lifted until the world sees a change in Iran’s behavior.
Kelly questioned Netanyahu on controversial comments he made ahead of the election when he urged supporters to get out and vote, warning that “the Arabs are voting in droves.” The White House called Netanyahu’s language divisive and accused him of trying to marginalize Arab Israelis.
Kelly asked, “Do you regret those comments?”
“That’s just not true,” Netanyahu said, explaining that he was warning of foreign money coming in to selectively bring out supporters of factions which oppose the state of Israel.
“I’m very proud of the fact that Israel’s policy and my policy is to be the prime minister of all Israelis – Arabs and Jews alike,” he said, stressing that he has pumped billions of dollars into Arab communities to update their infrastructure and better integrate them into Israel’s economy.
Netanyahu added, “Israel remains the one country in the Middle East where Arabs can vote freely, in free and fair elections. That’s sacred.”
In Kelly’s final question to the prime minister, she asked him, “What does it mean to you personally to wake up each day knowing that Israel’s enemies’ stated goal is to destroy the people and the country that you love?”
“I was once asked: what’s the difference between the president of the United States and the prime minister of Israel?” Netanyahu told Kelly. “And I said, Megyn, that the president of the United States, I believe, is always concerned about the security of the United States, but the prime minister of Israel… and I can speak personally in the nine years that I’ve been in office, there’s not been a day, a day, that I haven’t thought about the things I have to do to protect the survival of Israel. And that’s the difference.”
Watch the full interview above.