President Reuven Rivlin said that he has warned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu against butting heads with the US over Iran at the expense of Israeli interests, noting that close ties with Washington are of utmost importance to Israeli foreign policy.
Speaking to Haaretz in one of a battery of interviews given to the Hebrew press, Rivlin criticized Netanyahu’s behavior, saying that “conflicts, even just ones, which in the end can come at the expense of the State of Israel, are things that we must be very cautious about and hold back on personally.”
His remarks were published Thursday, during Netanyahu’s latest public relations push against the nuclear deal reached last month between world powers and Iran. Netanyahu on Tuesday appealed to American Jewish leaders to oppose the agreement. Earlier in the year, he traveled to Washington and stumped against a “bad deal” with Tehran before Congress.
Rivlin decried Netanyahu’s ongoing conflict with US President Barack Obama over the Iran issue. “We also need the world, even though many times we don’t agree with it,” he said, alluding to Netanyahu’s increasingly go-it-alone approach on the Islamic Republic’s controversial nuclear program, flying in the face of the US and European Union.
“There are three principles to Israel’s foreign policy,” Rivlin told Haaretz. “First, relations with the US; second, relations with the US; and the third principle — relations with the US.”
“Netanyahu must mend fences with Obama,” Rivlin said in an interview with the daily Yedioth Ahronoth.
Rivlin spoke to the press on the end of his first year in office, a year that has seen a spike in right-wing extremist aggression in Israel and frequent outbreaks of violence between Israel and the Palestinians. He addressed, in particular, firebombing of a Palestinian home near Nablus that left a year-old baby dead and the stabbing at the Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade, in which a 16-year-old girl was killed, both last week.
Rivlin lashed out on Facebook against the perpetrators of the terrorist attack on the Dawabsheh home, and in response received threats and curses from social media users, some of whom called him a traitor.
“The perpetrators of these acts hurt us more than anyone else,” Rivlin told Yedioth Ahronoth. “This way they will bring our destruction upon us.”
“If we’re all silent about these things, we’re all complicit,” the president said.
In the face of recent threats, Rivlin said he wouldn’t be deterred by those who wish ill upon him.
“To come and say about me that I’m destroying Israel, that I hate Israel, that’s a bit insulting,” he told Channel 2. Instead, he redoubled his criticism of the perpetrators of the terrorist attack on the Palestinian house.
“They are inhuman, and if they are doing this because they think it’s their mission — then we’re in a state of madness,” he told the station. “It’s not important if the act of terrorism was done by Jews, Arabs, Christians or Muslims. We need to fight terrorism because it eats away at the good within us.”