Israel

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    MR. RUSSERT: Creating or encouraging more suicide bombers. We’ll ask former Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu after this station break.

    (Announcements)

    MR. RUSSERT: Benjamin Netanyahu, good morning and welcome. On Thursday, President Bush for the sixth time said that Israel should withdraw its troops from the West Bank, including Ramallah and Bethlehem. The Israelis did not and in fact, moved into four new towns. Why is the Israeli government refusing to listen to President Bush?

    MR. BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: First of all, I’m sure everyone in Israel listens very carefully to President Bush, because in my mind, and not only in mine, he has been a tremendous friend of Israel, and I don’t think we’ve had a greater friend in the White House. But Israel, as Ari Fleischer, the president’s spokesman has said often, is a sovereign country and must deal with the security problems that reappeared only yesterday with the murder in her bed of a little girl, as well as other innocent civilians. We have to deal with that, and we are trying as quickly as we can to wrap this up but it takes time. It doesn’t take us the seven months it’s taken you in Afghanistan, but it’s not seven days, it’s not even seven weeks, I have to say, and it won’t be. I doubt very much it will be seven weeks.

    MR. RUSSERT: Shimon Peres, the foreign minister of Israel, was on this very program last week, and he is to exile Arafat is a “foolish idea.”

    MR. NETANYAHU: Well, I think to bring Arafat in, as Shimon Peres did, was a foolish idea. To bring him in, give him 40,000 guns,
    give him the hills above our cities, give him a small army and a lot of money, international recognition, you name it, in exchange for a promise that he violated and to wake up today and to say 10 years later and the equivalent of 600 Israelis murdered by Arafat’s goons, to say that we should continue to negotiate with him is crazy.

    MR. RUSSERT: Do you think Ariel Sharon is prepared to put Arafat into exile?

    MR. NETANYAHU: You know, I told him—I don’t know, but I think he wants to. I told him in a meeting I had with him after I came back from the United States, I said, “Look, I think the official, the formal position, maybe the real positions of United States is against it.” But I’ve been talking to the American public, to the American people. I’ve been talking to primarily, I must tell you, to non-Jewish audiences, and not just of evangelicals, a lot of people who are just middle America, in middle America, and when I give a speech there, I’ll tell you where I get the biggest applause, sometimes standing ovation, when I say that what we should do to Arafat is what you did to the Taliban and what you’re going to do to Saddam Hussein, what I just said. We should kick him out. And people get on the chairs—I’ve got some videotapes to prove it—they get on their chairs and they clap. And I think that the American people instinctively understand that this is what you do.

    MR. RUSSERT: Is there anyone in the Bush administration who privately supports kicking Arafat out?

    MR. NETANYAHU: Well, you’ll have to ask them that.

    MR. RUSSERT: What is the Israeli strategy with the military incursion: arrest terrorists, clean out some of the camps, but then what? Where do we go from there?

    MR. NETANYAHU: Well, I think we have to do in the short term three things. I think we have to kick out Arafat, because if he’s there, you’re going to have this regime that poisons the minds of young Palestinians, that gets them to glorify death and self-immolation, suicide. That is very dangerous. These human bomb factories that Arafat is creating is dangerous for all of us, not only for us, by the way, because it’ll spread eventually. So I think we have to get rid of the generator of these suicide cells, if you will.

    The second thing we have to do is to clean out the area. We’ve done a good part but not all of it, and I think we have to complete it. The third part is that I think we have to build a physical barrier which doesn’t exist around the West Bank and Israel. It doesn’t exist in Judea or Samaria. It exists in Gaza, so we’ve not had any suicide bombers from Gaza because they just can’t get through the fence. So we’ll have to decide on a physical barrier, which is not a political border. That can only be decided in negotiations when we have one day a partner that seeks to live in peace with us and not to destroy us.

    MR. RUSSERT: Would the Israeli government be willing to abandon some Israeli settlements for peace?

    MR. NETANYAHU: I think this is something that will have to come up in the future. I, personally, do not volunteer concessions in advance of negotiations. That’s why I come out with better results in negotiations.

    MR. RUSSERT: There are many who have expressed a concern in that while hundreds of terrorists may be arrested because of the Israeli incursion, that thousands more, perhaps a new generation, is being created. This is how the New York Times reported it on Thursday. Pictures of three Palestinian young boys, 15, 15, and 14, “Most Palestinians...blamed the long Israeli occupation, the recent Israeli incursion into the West Bank and the crushing poverty here for driving young Palestinians to increasingly desperate acts. ...Palestinian parents expressed bewilderment...at the number of young boys saying they were eager to become martyrs in recent weeks. ...The three boys who carried out the Tuesday night attack went to the same school and all the boys...were said to be excellent students.”

    MR. NETANYAHU: Well, only...

    MR. RUSSERT: How concerned are you that you’re creating a whole new generation of young Palestinians who want to do nothing but destroy Israelis?

    MR. NETANYAHU: Well, we’re not creating them. What’s creating them is the inculcation that they receive in these schools. And you have no choice but to defend yourself and to dismantle these regimes. The key is the regimes that inculcate these people. You know, it’s often said, and you just heard it, that between the lines that what produces terrorism, and, by extension, what produces suicidal terrorism, is the deprivation of rights. OK? Well, if that were the case, then in the 19th century—you can say that to an audience whose historical understanding goes back to breakfast. OK? But if you look at the thousands, thousands of conflicts for national liberation and for equal rights in the 19th and 20th century, hardly any produced terrorism. Martin
    Luther King didn’t use terrorism. Mahatma Gandhi in fighting for the liberation of India from Britain didn’t use terrorism. The peoples of Eastern Europe in fighting—struggling to bring down the Berlin Wall didn’t use terrorism. In the 19th century, the Poles, the Czechs, the Greeks, the Italians, all fighting for their independence, never used terrorism. And neither did most of the people who fought for these freedoms.

    MR. RUSSERT: As you well know, the United Nations wants to send observers into Jenin to investigate allegations of a massacre by the Israeli army. What’s your reaction?

    MR. NETANYAHU: Well, it’s a joke. It’s a bad joke. You know, the U.N. didn’t lift a finger to condemn the dozens and dozens of genuine massacres that were launched against us by Arafat’s goons. Now, if they knew that it was Arafat, then they could have condemned it. If they had questions whether it was Arafat, then they should have investigated, but they didn’t. They only go to Jenin, where we, obviously, fought in front of the entire world, in close quarters, where you are bound to get civilian casualties—by the way, not many of them. We’re told by our foreign ministry that the actual number of civilians is seven. I don’t know if it’s seven or 27, but we lost 29 soldiers in the battle in Jenin. Some massacre. The bullets bounce back on the soldiers, right? So this is a farce. It shows that the U.N. was never wellintentioned.

    MR. RUSSERT: So the Israeli government will not allow the United Nations into Jenin?

    MR. NETANYAHU: I’m speaking for my—on my own behalf. I would not let them come into Jenin anymore than I would let them come into Kandahar.

    MR. RUSSERT: The Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia met with President Bush in Texas, and, according to press reports, he said that the United States would face “grave consequences” if it does not rein in Israel.

    MR. NETANYAHU: Do you believe he said that? Do you believe he actually threatened the United States? I mean, that’s a new definition of chutzpah. These guys have been—this regime has been funding Islamic militancy worldwide, from the Philippines to the West Coast of the United States. They’ve funded the Taliban. They funded Osama bin Laden. He’d never have gotten to the proportions that he got without Saudi funding. And they have the temerity to tell the U.S. that they will face great danger if they support, assist a democracy facing the terrorism that they’ve been sponsoring? That’s ridiculous. I mean, I think that the Saudis should be exposed for what they are. They should be taken not with a grain of salt, but with a grain of acid, because they are really responsible for a good part of the madness that has proliferated here. And by the way, the idea of ventilating societies, maybe we ought to start with Saudi Arabia, which is one of the most backward, cloistered dictatorships in the world.

    MR. RUSSERT: There are reports that the Bush administration is planning for an invasion of Iraq early next year to topple Saddam Hussein. Do you believe that is a prudent and doable operation?

    MR. NETANYAHU: Yes, I do. I think it would be imprudent to leave Saddam on his—in Baghdad while he’s developing, feverishly, atomic weapons to tip his nuclear missiles with. I think that would be imprudent. I think that President Bush and his able colleagues in this administration understand this historical imperative, and they should press ahead with it, regardless of whether the Europeans see that.

    MR. RUSSERT: And what would be the reaction in the Arab world?

    MR. NETANYAHU: Is it important? Suppose the reaction is negative. OK, so what? Can the Arab world stop you? Are they that indispensable in material terms, in physical terms, in getting the job done? Probably not. You can do it. The imperative is more important, the mission is more important than the coalition. And that should guide the coalition, whether you have one or you don’t. But I think something else will happen, and that is I think that is my understanding of the Arab world as I see it. There is a tremendous respect for American principle and American power that backs American principle. There is—I would say even more than respect. There is admiration, bordering on worship. It doesn’t make any difference what calamdeen, what vilification will be heaped on you. Not that much, in my opinion. They’ll all line up, just as—you know, it was said that millions would—or tens of thousands would rush into Afghanistan if you attacked, and if you attacked during Ramadan, it would be hundreds of thousands. Well, in, fact, hundreds of thousands did stream, but out of Afghanistan in flight of American wrath. I think that America should move ahead. The effect in the Arab world would actually be beneficial. And if you couple your victories with democratization, the effect would be long lasting and safeguard humanity.

    MR. RUSSERT: Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, we thank you for joining us.

    MR. NETANYAHU: Thank you.

 
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