Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a direct link Wednesday between the devastating attacks a day earlier in Brussels, for which Islamic State claimed responsibility, and Palestinian terrorism, positing that both phenomena pursue the same goal.
“I already said many times that terrorism is caused not by occupation and despair, but by hope — the hope of the Islamic State terrorists to establish an Islamic caliphate in all of Europe [and] the hope of Palestinian terrorists that they will succeed in establishing a Palestinian state in the entire territory of the State of Israel,” the prime minister said.
Attacks Tuesday at the airport in Brussels and at a metro station in the city a short time later left at least 32 people dead and hundreds more wounded. Islamic State later said that it had carried out the bombings. Belgium on Wednesday identified two of the suicide bombers as Ibrahim and Khalid El Bakraoui.
Speaking at a press conference at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, Netanyahu began by expressing condolences to the people of Belgium, and offering any possible assistance.
“If there is one people who know what they are going through it is the people of Israel, who have been bravely and courageously fighting against terrorist attacks for many years,” he said.
“We’re in a global war against terror. It’s a war of the civilized word versus the sons of darkness. Terrorism strikes everywhere,” he added.
“I think the point of departure in the fight against terrorism is this: Nothing justifies terrorism, absolutely nothing. In Paris, Brussels, San Bernadino, Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. Terror must be condemned equally and it must be fought equally.”
The prime minister continued: “In all of these places, terrorism does not stem from deprivation. It does not come from frustration. It stems from a murderous ideology — the desire to destroy the enemy and to uproot him.
Netanyahu said he had spoken with Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel and European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and offered them Israel’s full assistance – including in the areas of security and intelligence.
“Israel stands ready to cooperate with all the nations in this great struggle. These terrorists seek our destruction, but they will fail; but if we work together they will fail a lot sooner,” Netanyahu said.
Responding to a question posed by The Times of Israel, on whether he was concerned that the United States could support, or at least refrain from opposing, a Palestine-related resolution at the United Nations, he replied that it has been the “traditional policies of US governments to oppose” unilateral efforts to advance the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. All US presidents, including Barack Obama, support this view, Netanyahu said.
He then quoted from a speech Obama delivered five years ago at the UN General Assembly: “Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the United Nations… Ultimately, it is the Israelis and the Palestinians — not us — who must reach agreement on the issues that divide them.”
“That is to say that peace won’t come from dictates at the UN or the Security Council,” Netanyahu said. “I agree entirely with this position.”
On Tuesday, addressing the powerful pro-Israel AIPAC lobby via video conference, Netanyahu had denigrated the idea of a Security Council resolution that would seek to establish the framework of a peace deal.
“A Security Council resolution to pressure Israel would further harden Palestinian positions, and thereby it could actually kill the chances of peace for many, many years,” he said. “And that is why I hope the United States will maintain its longstanding position to reject such a UN resolution.”
The US government has repeatedly rejected unilateral steps toward Palestinian statehood, arguing that a solution can only come as the result of bilateral negotiations. On the other hand, the administration has never confirmed that it would veto a Palestine-related resolution if it came up, and some Israeli officials fear that in his last months in office, Obama could support such a demarche in a bid to create a lasting legacy on the peace process.
Asked about an unfriendly meeting he had a few years ago with Obama, which was recently described by US journalist Jeffrey Goldberg in The Atlantic, Netanyahu jokingly said he would keep this for his memoirs, quickly adding that he had no intention of writing them in the near future.
More seriously, he said that Israeli and American governments occasionally have differences of opinions.
“I never thought for a second that, as Israel’s prime minister, I don’t have to express what I think is important for Israel’s security. And that’s what I did. And I think it did it in a straight and respectful and practical manner.”