Netanyahu on Iran & Middle East Peace
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu joined Fox News Sunday to discuss what to do about Irans nuclear program, the status of peace talks in the Middle East, and to give a status update on the special relationship between the US and Israel.
On Iran, Netanyahu was asked whether the rogue nations nuclear program could be contained. The Israeli Prime Minister did not mince words, No. No, I don't. I think that's a mistake You can't rely on the fact that they'll obey the calculations of cost and benefit that have governed all nuclear powers since -- since the rise of the nuclear age after Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We've had effective nuclear peace for more than half a century because everybody understood the rules.
On June 27, CIA Director Leon Panetta said that the new UN sanctions against Iran would probably not deter their ambition to develop nuclear weapons. Netanyahu responded to those remarks by saying, He's probably right. I can tell you one thing, that Iran is closer to developing nuclear weapons today than it was a week ago or a month ago or a year ago. It's just moving on with -- with its efforts.
On what the US, particularly President Obama, should do in order to insure Iran does not obtain nukes, Netanyahu continued, There's only been one time that Iran actually stopped the program and that was when it feared US military action. So the -- the -- when the president says that he is determined to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons and that all options are on the table, I think that's the right statement of policy.
The Middle East peace process has recently been stalled due to an inability to bring Israel and the Palestinian Authority together for direct talks. A key sticking point for negotiations to begin has been whether Israel will extend their current moratorium over the new construction of housing settlements.
Netanyahu downplayed the importance of the moratoriums extension and pressed for an immediate start of direct talks with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas. Now we're asked to make an extension of this. Look, I think this is -- this is the wrong approach. I think we should eliminate all these preconditions and all these excuses and all those demands for entering into direct talks. We should just get into them.
On the current state of US / Israeli relations, Netanyahu laid to rest the notion that there is a growing distance between the two nations on a range of issues. Netanyahu said, I think if anyone thought that there was a change of US policy, or daylight, between Israel and the United States on these questions, I think -- I think he did a lot to lay that to rest.
Finally, Netanyahu was asked about how President Obama measures up to some past US Presidents. The Prime Minister refused to make a direct comparison, but added, I don't compare people. This is something you leave for biographers. But I can tell you there is a consistent line in all U.S. presidents, from everyone that I met, including President Obama -- share what the president called the basic bedrock of this unbreakable bond between Israel and the United States. Israeli prime ministers are also different. Each one of us is different. But we all value the relationship with the United States enormously -- enormously.