Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that a ”Jew-free” Palestinian state, now being contemplated in peace talks, would be tantamount to ethnic cleansing, in a trailer for an hour-long interview with Canada’s CTV to be broadcast this week.
When the interviewer, CTV’s Lisa LaFlamme, said that 1 in 5 Israelis are Arab, Netanyahu responded, “Sure. We’re not asking them to change their religion, they have full civic rights. Now in the Palestinian state, the way its being contemplated, no Jew can live there, it has to be Jew free, ethnic cleansing. Well, what is that? There are Arabs who live here, but they can’t contemplate Jews living there.”
He said that rather than the issue of settlements, the crux of the disagreement is the Palestinian Authority’s refusal to recognize a Jewish state.
“I think the issue of settlements will be resolved, the question of the territories, in general, will be resolved in the negotiations. I don’t think it’s the heart of the conflict, though I know people think of it that way, but it isn’t, it isn’t so,” Netanyahu said.
“It’s not about settlements, it’s not about territory, and it’s not even about a Palestinian state, which we agreed right from the start to recognize. It’s about a Jewish state. It’s about survival of the state of Israel. It’s absurd that we’re willing to recognize, that I’m willing to recognize the Palestinians, but in exchange, they’re not willing to recognize the Jewish state, the nation state of the Jewish people. There’s something wrong there.”
With three more months before a U.S.-set deadline for the talks, Netanyahu said he was hopeful that the talks succeed.
“I hope they don’t fail, and I hope we can do everything we can to have a successful outcome. We’re ready to do it, i’m ready to do it,” he said.