Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sat down with Center for American Progress President Neera Tanden in Washington DC on Tuesday evening to a discussion that covered a range of issues, including Iran, the Syrian civil war and the partnership between Israel and the US.
His conversation at the left-leaning CAP and his Monday appearance at the conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute are likely intended to demonstrate the bipartisan nature of the Israel-US alliance.
In answer to a question about his “negotiating posture,” the prime minister lambasted Palestinian “rejectionism,” and warned that the issue of the Temple Mount had no solution.
“Ninety five percent of what we have to cede [to the Palestinians] is territory. The questions of security and recognition is what we need from the other side,” he said. “Jerusalem, the Temple Mount is not reconcilable. I simply don’t see a solution.
“But on these issues [of land, security and recognition], Israel is asked to give 100% of its negotiating position [by drawing a border before peace talks commence] without getting anything in return. I don’t negotiate that way.”
This was with good reason, he said, given the Palestinian intransigence.
“It’s a point of fact that my predecessors who negotiated differently fell off a cliff. Because they didn’t get anything. They didn’t breach Palestinian rejectionism,” he said. “I nevertheless say that I’m willing to meet Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas]. My late father used to say that “conversation fertilizes thought.” So you actually can generate new ideas if you actually sit down and talk.
“I can’t get this guy to sit down and talk. My throat has become hoarse from inviting him to meet again and again and again.”
Turning to Syria, the prime minister said that Israel was uncertain on how to intervene, but warned that the Jewish state would not sit idly by if threatened.
“I’m not sure how to intervene, but I’m sure of this: first, if Syria fires on us, we fire back. Second, if Hezbollah establishes position on Golan Heights, we’ll take action against that, as we have. Third, if Hezbollah wants to transfer weapons through Syria, we’ll take action, as we have. Fourth, if we don’t see it but it went through, we’ll take action on Syria on weapons that we do see to degrade weapons caches that could be transferred later,” he said.