Netanyahu: More Arab Countries Seek to Normalize Relations With Us

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. (Marc Israel Sellem/Pool)

In an interview with the Arabic service of the BBC, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu lauded the increasing normalization of Arab countries with Israel. In the first interview Netanyahu has granted any media outlet since the declaration of new elections, Netanyahu said that “countries can say what they like, but I believe the majority of the Arab world – and I do not just mean the top officials – are in favor” of better relations with Israel.

Netanyahu said that polling services had conducted many interviews with “Arabs in the street,” as well as with Iranians, on whether their countries should establish relations with Israel, and “large numbers agree with that,” a significant change from just a few years ago, when the number was closer to zero.

“Normalization with us is increasing,” Netanyahu said. “I don’t think it is possible to reach other peace agreements, but the new thing is that Arab countries are realizing that we can move forward on many things, especially in the security field, and I am very happy with that.”

Regarding Iran, Netanyahu said that his fight was not just for Israel’s defense, but that the country’s actions in trying to force an end to the Iranian nuclear program would benefit the entire region. Iran is not only trying to attack Israel, but also carries out actions against its neighbors in the Arab world. Not satisfied with just enflaming the Middle East, Tehran has now planted its talons in Africa, where it seeks to spread its version of Shi’ite Islam, the prime minister said.

Netanyahu also expressed disappointment with the Palestinian Authority for refusing to even acknowledge American ideas for a deal with Israel. “We don’t say that economic support is a substitute for an agreement,” but the two can be worked out independently of each other. “I don’t understand the stance of the Palestinian Authority. An amount like $30 billion,” given the PA’s small population, could go a long way to providing PA Arabs with a better life, he added.