By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
JERUSALEM (Worthy News) – Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged Tuesday he would consider serving as a peace mediator between Russia and Ukraine if asked and said only a military threat would deter Iran from having nuclear weapons.
“If asked by all relevant parties [both warring countries and the United States], I’ll certainly consider it, but I’m not pushing myself in,” Netanyahu told the Cable News Network (CNN) in an interview. He added it must be the “right time and the right circumstances.”
Israel’s close ally, the United States, would also need to ask because “you can’t have too many cooks in the kitchen,” he stressed.
Netanyahu said he was asked to mediate shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine in February last year. However, he declined because he was Israel’s opposition leader then, not the prime minister. “I have a rule: one prime minister at a time,” he said.
Netanyahu would not say who asked him to serve in the role, but he added the request was “unofficial.”
When asked if Israel would send arms to Ukraine, he revealed that Israel is actively moving to take out Iranian drones used by Russia in Ukraine. He declined to confirm that Israel carried out a drone strike targeting a defense compound in Iran but smiled when asked about it.
Netanyahu also said that only military threats would end Iran’s nuclear program and acknowledged disagreements over that issue with U.S. President Joe Biden.
“If you have rogue regimes that are (intending to get) nuclear weapons, you can sign 100 agreements with them; it doesn’t help,” he said. “I think the only way that you can stop or abstain from getting nuclear weapons is a combination of crippling economic sanctions, but the most important thing is a credible military threat,” he added.
ISRAEL REMAINS JEWISH HOME
Netanyahu also said that Israel should remain the home for any Jew regardless of religious or cultural background and that he won’t change the right-to-return law. He refused to condemn a recent visit by a cabinet member to the tense Temple Mount, saying many others had done so too.
He said, however, he had not hung up on peace with Palestinians but added it was made difficult by forces who “still want to drive Israel into the sea.” Netanyahu also condemned the education of Palestinian children, who he said are taught to hate Israel and Jews.
He stressed that “Palestinian culture celebrates death. Our culture celebrates life”. The prime minister wondered why the Palestinian leadership had not condemned last week’s deadly attack on a synagogue in Jerusalem.
He expressed concern about rising antisemitism and the growing denial of the Holocaust, or Shoah, which included the killing of six million Jews during World War Two.
Netanyahu acknowledged that he had lashed out to former President Donald J. Trump for recently hosting a dinner attended by two guests accused of being antisemitic and Holocaust deniers.
Netanyahu had described Trump’s meeting with white supremacist Nick Fuentes and rapper Kanye West, both accused of being antisemitic, as a “mistake.”
However, in Tuesday’s interview, he also praised Trump for being the first president to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. “A bit late, 3,000 years after King David, but he did it,” he observed.
NETANYAHU RECALLS ABRAHAM ACCORDS
He also praised Trump’s arranged Abraham Accords on normalizing relations between Israel and four Arab states, including the United Arab Emirates and Bahrein, followed by Morocco and Sudan.
Netanyahu’s remarks came as U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken visited Israel and the West Bank. The United States was the world’s first nation to recognize Israel as an independent state on May 14, 1948.
Blinken urged Israelis and Palestinians to ease tensions on Monday during a visit to Jerusalem, reaffirming a long-stalled peace vision of two states side by side as the only path forward.
Seven people were shot dead in Friday’s attack by an East Jerusalem Palestinian man who was himself killed by police, authorities said.
It came after Israel raided the Jenin refugee camp in the Israel-controlled West Bank, killing 10 people, most of them suspected militants. Israel said the operation came after a terror threat.
Palestinian authorities claim at least 35 Palestinians, including fighters and civilians, died in violence surging since January 1.
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