Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told participants at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting that, “Israel has always aimed to be a ‘light unto other nations’ – we can offer security, food, clear water and many technological solutions.”
“I hope we can help people around the world and in our corner of the world,” he said. Israel is more closely aligned with Egypt, Saudi Arabia and several other countries in the Middle East than it has been for decades, said Netanyahu. One element of common ground is the stance against Iran. Another element is the desire of neighboring countries to benefit from Israeli civilian technology in areas such as agriculture and water. “There is a great promise for regional peace in developments such as these,” he said.
On Iran, the prime minister said he sees the present nuclear deal as deeply flawed. Just because a bad deal was signed, it doesn’t mean it has to be retained, Netanyahu added. There was a similar deal until recently with North Korea and the outcome, he said, has not been good. “The most important thing for Israel is to prevent Iran acquiring nuclear weapons.”
On Jerusalem, Netanyahu said that peace can only be based on truth and reality – denying that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel is “a fantasy”. He continued: “The seat of the Israeli government has always been in Jerusalem. [US] President Trump made history by recognizing history.” Under any arrangement we will of course keep the status quo in terms of access to holy sites of all the major faiths, he added.
On relations with the Palestinians, sticking points include security, Hamas and ISIS. When Israel removed settlements from Gaza, Netanyahu said, Hamas came in and fired thousands of rockets at Tel Aviv and other cities. Israel does not want to see a repeat of that and is proposing a different model, he added. “Let Palestinians govern themselves, but we need to maintain security.” This is a realistic model for an enduring peace, he said.