Benjamin Netanyahu Speaks to the Foreign Press
By Sarah Ann Haves
On Thursday, January 14, 2016, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the annual New Year’s reception for the foreign media, hosted by Israel’s Government Press Office. Hundreds of journalists who report the news for media outlets outside of Israel were in attendance.
Netanyahu began his speech emphasizing the yearly systematic bias against Israel at the UN. According to Netanyahu, a majority of country resolutions at the United Nations Human Rights Council are directed against Israel, “more than all the other countries combined in the world; Syria, Iran, North Korea, you name it.”
In recent months, Netanyahu has emphasized that those countries doing business with Israel, who are generally friendly, should honor that relationship by voting positively for Israel when possible; and, by getting anti-Israel agendas off the table at UN and EU forums. Netanyahu, who is also Israel’s Foreign Minister, has taken action against the EU for labeling Israeli products, including which products are produced in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria). The Israeli government sees this labeling as a contribution to the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement against the Jewish State. Because of the EU bias, Israel will continue to deal with European countries, individually, but there will be certain forums where the EU will be excluded from participation, including those dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
about recent comments
of Swedish minister
During his meeting with journalists, Netanyahu was asked a question about the recent comments of Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom. She has stated that over the past several months, Israel has used excessive force when trying to clamp down on Palestinian violence.
Knife stabbings, shootings, the ramming of cars into Israeli pedestrians and soldiers, excessive rock throwing and Palestinian riots have been characteristic of the Third Intifada (Uprising) against the Israeli population. In order to stop Palestinian violence, the Israeli Police and the IDF have defended Israel’s citizens by using force against the perpetuators. Yet, on more than one occasion, Wallstrom has sided with the Palestinians in statements unacceptable to Israel.
“Israel’s not above criticism,” Netanyahu stated, “but it should be held to the same standard that everyone else is being held to. I think what the Swedish Foreign Minister said is outrageous. I think it’s immoral, it’s unjust, it’s just wrong.” While not going so far as to say that Wallstrom’s comments were anti-Semitic, Netanyahu did add that her comments were also “stupid.”
The Foreign Ministry, already upset with Sweden for voting in Parliament for the establishment of a Palestinian state, rebuked Wallstrom in a statement last week, and threatened to exclude Sweden from future negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
In his speech at Jerusalem’s Inbal Hotel on Thursday night, Netanyahu expressed his frustration at the continued Palestinian rejection of bilateral peace talks with Israel. He highlighted the Palestinian refusal to negotiate with Israel based on a claim they desire — a political resolution of the conflict. As Netanyahu has reiterated many times before, it’s about Palestinian intentions. “The real core of the conflict is the rejection of a Jewish state, a nation state for the Jewish people, in any borders. That has unfortunately remained with us.”
Speaking of threats to Israel’s safety and security, because of continued instability in the Middle East, Netanyahu mentioned the problems Israel is faced with that are also becoming common in other countries. “The primary threats that we face today are from militant Islam, from the Sunni branch led by ISIS, and from the Shi’ite branch led by Iran. They both, they all perpetrate terror of one sort or another.”
Later in his speech, Netanyahu referred to neighbors in the region that Israel has peace with (Egypt and Jordan), but also, Israel’s growing and expanding ties with other Arab countries. Describing the vast changes occurring because of the increase of militant Islam, Netanyahu explained that nations are looking for military and anti-terror intelligence. The Jewish State has experience in fighting Islamic militants and in fighting terror; therefore, nations are interested in seeking Israel’s expertise.
Throughout his talk, Netanyahu brought forth Israel’s accomplishments, especially in the areas of high-tech, security and technology. He mentioned countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America, Central and Eastern Europe who have partnered with Israel. He emphasized relations with China, India, Japan and Russia.
“And, when they look at Israel they see the growth of our technology. And, the three reasons they come here are technology, technology, technology.” Netanyahu described some of the specific benefits these countries receive from Israeli know-how in the fields of agriculture, health, IT and cyber.
According to Netanyahu, both big and small countries recognize Israel’s innovations; and, they want to form partnerships in the future. Despite the attempt by some to hurt Israel through the BDS movement, or in international forums, Israel is not facing isolation by the international community. Netanyahu said he is being flooded with requests for visits by leaders who want an exchange with Israelis. “This is what is happening in the world. It’s a big change, and it’s one that I think augurs great promise for Israel.”
|One of the controversial
issues is an NGO
One of the controversial issues that Israel has been confronted with, recently, is an NGO transparency bill that is being promoted by Israel’s Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked. Netanyahu could not understand how divulging foreign government funding could be considered anti-democratic. “I think it is the most obvious request in any democracy,” he claimed. Netanyahu further pointed to a document from the U.S. House of Representatives that proved financial disclosure of foreign government funding is required in America, as well.
“The proposed rule in Israel on disclosure of NGO’s is not anti-democratic. It’s transparency, which is the heart of democracy. It is something that is practiced in other countries as I’ve just shown you. I think when you hear of the use and abuse of NGO’s here, that’s the least that we want, is transparency. And, I think that it’s much warranted.”
While the main emphasis of Netanyahu’s remarks were connected to Israel’s diplomatic relations, he also answered questions from journalists about North Korea’s recent nuclear test; the uncertainty for Jews living in Europe because of anti-Semitism; and, his future trip to Cyprus to discuss gas explorations with Cyprus and Greek leaders.
During his exchange with the foreign media, Netanyahu went back to his main theme…that nations are so interested in doing business with Israel that there is hardly time to meet with all the leaders. At the same time, Israel faces its battles at the UN and EU.
“I hope we can reset our relationship with the EU. I hope we can do this on better terms,” Netanyahu said, and added, “Just as there’s a natural tendency in the UN, there’s a natural tendency in the EU establishment to single out Israel and treat it in ways that other countries are not being dealt with…” Netanyahu concluded that there must be a way to resolve this double standard and set things on the right course.
The Israeli Prime Minister’s speech to the foreign media was shorter this year than previous years. It gave journalists an opportunity to ask more questions. From Iran, to the Palestinian Authority, to Russia’s powerful military influence in Syria, Netanyahu had the opportunity to answer the questions of foreign correspondents. He addressed a whole range of issues affecting Israel politically, diplomatically and militarily. It seemed that the media left the conference hall satisfied that their questions were answered, and Netanyahu got his opportunity, as well, to respond to those who will be writing articles and producing broadcast stories on these strategic issues throughout the New Year.
(c) 2015 Messianic Vision all rights reserved. This article is not reproducible except with permisson from Messianic Vision.
Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright ©1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Ms. Haves is a news analyst, reporting on political, diplomatic, military and spiritual issues in Israel and the nations.