Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he looks forward to speaking with President-elect Donald Trump about the "bad nuclear deal" with Iran. "Israel is committed to preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. That has not changed and will not change."
He made the comments Sunday. Featured via satellite at the 13th Annual Saban Forum at the Brookings Institution in Washington DC, Netanyahu said he opposed the Iran nuclear deal because "it doesn't prevent Iran from getting nukes, it paves the way for Iran to get nuclear weapons."
And, he added, "the Iranians are developing intercontinental ballistic missiles. And for those who forget, Israel and Iran are in the same continent; we're in the same neighborhood. They're not developing these ICMs for us, they're developing it for you, for America."
Netanyahu also lauded US-Israel ties and said that "as an Israeli, I can say that we have no better friend than the United States of America. [At the same time], as someone who is in the region I can say that America has no better friend than Israel. Actually, not only in the Middle East, but in the world. So strengthening Israel in the Middle East is strengthening American interests and values in the Middle East.
"I look forward to discussing with the new administration how we can continue to work together to strengthen Israel and confront the common threats that face both of us, and also seize common opportunities that have developed because of these common threats," he added.
Haim Saban, an Egyptian-born Israeli-American billionaire, is the funder and founder of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy which sponsors the forum.
Saban asked Netanyahu if his 2009 remarks, in which he voiced support for a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes Israel still hold true.
Netanyahu replied, "I haven't changed, it's there. I believe in coexistence and mutual respect. The problem we have and the core of the conflict we have is that the Palestinians persist in refusing to recognize a Jewish state [with] in any boundary.
"The Palestinians are trying to go to the UN in a vain effort to try to impose a solution. And I believe that this will push peace further away. Now you'll remember that in 2011 President Obama vetoed a UN Security Council resolution on settlements and he said at the UN that peace cannot be imposed through statements at the UN This was the right policy then, and it's the right policy today."
On Saturday, Israel's Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman attended the Saban Forum. When asked by interviewer Jake Tapper about the Israel-Palestinian peace process, he replied simply, "No peace and no process."
Lieberman pointed to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's recent remarks at the Seventh Fatah Congress in Ramallah, which Lieberman said were "very clear."
Abbas "will never give up the idea of refugees, and, of course, he will never recognize the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state."
Lieberman explained that "with those two preconditions, you know, we really don’t have anything to discuss with the Palestinians. The right of return for the Palestinian refugees, [would be] the end of the Zionist ideals, the Zionist state; and [yet, Abbas] insisted that he would never recognize Israel as a Jewish nation-state. What exactly will be the issue to discuss?"
This is a lightly edited version of the original article published by Israel Hayom at http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=38531.