Israel-US relations | Peace | Iran | Nuclear weapons free zone | Gaza

 Israeli policy-PM Netanyahu's visit to the US: Selected quotes


PM Netanyahu with President Obama at the White House (Photo: GPO)

1. Israel-US relations

The recent meetings held between the President and Prime Minister provided proof of the "special relationship" [Obama, White House remarks, 6 July] and "extraordinary friendship" [Obama, White House remarks, 6 July] between the two countries.

"The bond between the United States and Israel is unbreakable. It encompasses our national security interests, our strategic interests, but most importantly the bond of two democracies who share a common set of values and whose people have grown closer and closer as time goes on." [Obama, White House remarks, 6 July]

"There is no greater ally, no greater friend of the United States than Israel. And there is no greater friend and no greater ally of Israel than the United States." [Netanyahu, Larry King Live, CNN, 7 July]

Both Israel and the US are working together to explore the "possibilities of peace" as well as "to protect our common interests, our countries, our peoples against new threats." [Netanyahu, White House remarks, 6 July]

"The people who attack the United States and the Middle East attack Israel. The people that we are fighting are the people you are fighting. So there’s a great commonalty, a great cooperation that goes underneath the surface." [Netanyahu, Larry King Live, CNN, 7 July] Much of the Israel-US relationship is not publicized, but includes "military-to-military, issues related to Israel maintaining its qualitative military edge, intelligence sharing, how we are able to work together effectively on the international front." [Obama, White House remarks, 6 July] "The support for Israel and the American people and the intertwining of interests and cooperation between our governments is increasing all the time." [Netanyahu, Larry King Live, CNN, 7 July]

"The United States is committed to Israel’s security, we are committed to that special bond, and we are going to do what’s required to back that up, not just with words but with actions." [Obama, White House remarks, 6 July]

"We strongly believe that given its size, its history, the region that it’s in, and the threats that are leveled against it that Israel has unique security requirements. It’s got to be able to respond to threats or any combination of threats in the region. And that’s why we remain unwavering in our commitment to Israel’s security. And the United States will never ask Israel to take any steps that would undermine their security interests." [Obama, White House remarks, 6 July]

 "It’s a bond that transcends the differences of opinion our two governments might have from time to time." [Netanyahu, Council on Foreign Relations, 8 July] "I think every prime minister, every president, has his own points, his own viewpoints, but there’s a common position of friendship and a basic alliance that is there, that really is continued by all leaders, whoever they are. That was definitely the case yesterday." [Netanyahu, Larry King Live, CNN, 7 July]

2. Peace

Israel’s commitment to peace:

"I believe that Prime Minister Netanyahu wants peace. I think he’s willing to take risks for peace."  [Obama, White House remarks, 6 July] 

On direct negotiation:

"We’ve begun proximity talks. I think it’s high time to begin direct talks." [Netanyahu, White House remarks, 6 July] "You cannot resolve a conflict, you cannot successfully complete a peace negotiation if you don’t start it." [Netanyahu, Larry King Live, CNN, 7 July]

"We expect those proximity talks to lead to direct talks. And I believe that the government of Israel is prepared to engage in such direct talks. And I commend the Prime Minister for that." [Obama, White House remarks, 6 July] 

"With the help of President Obama, President Abbas and myself should engage in direct talks to reach a political settlement of peace, coupled with security and prosperity." [Netanyahu, White House remarks, 6 July]  "I think we have to break molds, break stereotypes, and cut right through to a solution. I’m prepared to do it. I’m prepared to lead. And I hope that President Abbas hears my call, responds to it. I think we’ll have important and steady help from President Obama. But there is no substitute for the two leaders; the leader of Israel and the leader of the Palestinian Authority, to get down together, talk peace and make peace."
[Netanyahu, Larry King Live, CNN, 7 July]

"The simplest way to advance peace is to put aside all the grievances and all the preconditions and all the excuses that have been put up to prevent me and President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority from sitting down. I said I’m ready to sit down with him in Jerusalem, in Ramallah – that’s 10 minutes away from my office – to discuss peace without preconditions." [Netanyahu, Good Morning America, ABC, 7 July]

The use of pretexts:

"Both sides have grievances, and we have grievances too. For example, the Palestinians call public squares in honor of terrorists. I can say, well, until they rename these squares, I won’t get into the talks. That can cost us a lot of time. I think that the right thing is to move directly into peace talks as soon as possible. That’s the only way that this thing is going to be resolved, and it needs a resolution." [Netanyahu, Council on Foreign Relations, 8 July]


 "The settlement issue was supposed to be a final-status issue from the start; along with security, with the question of territory, borders, Jerusalem, refugees, water. These are the principal issues that need to be discussed in the final-status issue. I did, as I said, something quite unprecedented. I actually did this temporary freeze as an inducement to enter the talks. Now, seven months into this 10-month moratorium, the Palestinians have not yet come in, but they already argue, well, you’ve got to extend that gesture. And I think the right thing to do is just get into the talks. This is how we’ll resolve this issue of settlements, by actually having the talks and not by constantly pulling and trying to engage in this one-upmanship that has been directed at Israel." [Netanyahu, Council on Foreign Relations, 8 July]

Preparing for peace:

The Palestinian Authority should "prepare its people for peace in schools, textbooks and so on." [Netanyahu, White House remarks, 6 July]


 "I don’t think we can make peace with an organization that seeks our destruction. That’s Hamas. But I think we can make peace with the Palestinian Authority. It requires a lot of courage from our side, from me, and it also requires courage from President Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority. It’s going to be a very tough negotiation, but one that I think our peoples are ripe for. Is Hamas going to be a part of it? No, as long as it wants to destroy Israel, it’s not going to be a part of it.  Now, at this point, I could tell you, we’ll never negotiate with the Palestinian Authority as long as Hamas is in Gaza.  That’s not my position.  I think we should get on with it and seek to negotiate peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.  We’ll have to deal with Hamas later." [Netanyahu, Fox News Sunday, 11 July]

The goal of the negotiations:

"Peace is a solution of two states for two peoples, in which a de-militarized Palestinian state recognizes the Jewish state of Israel. This vision is anchored in two core principles, security and legitimacy…. These are the two principal goals, or the two principal pillars of peace that I put forward in my speech in Bar Ilan." [Netanyahu, Council on Foreign Relations, 8 July] "The solution of legitimacy means that we recognize the Palestinian state as the nation-state of the Palestinian people, and they recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people." [Netanyahu, Council on Foreign Relations, 8 July]


"Israelis are prepared to do a lot to get that peace in place, but they want to make sure that after all the steps they take, that what we get is a secure peace. We don’t want a repeat of the situation where we vacate territories and those are overtaken by Iran’s proxies and used as launching ground for terrorist attacks or rocket attacks." [Netanyahu, White House Remarks, 6 July] "In the case of Israel, it is a palpable strategic threat because our cities are targeted, our airfields are targeted, our military installations are targeted. We have to have a real solution to this, not a solution on paper, but a solution on the ground that actually prevents the mass smuggling of rockets, missiles and other weaponry into the areas that we vacate." [Netanyahu, Council on Foreign Relations, 8 July]

Finality of the conflict:

"And what we’d really like to see is that the Palestinians understand that we expect them to end the conflict. That the state that they will receive will not be a platform for additional conflicts against Israel, but an end to the conflict with solid security." [Netanyahu, Good Morning America, ABC, 7 July]

 "And what we expect President Mahmoud Abbas to say is, no more conflicts, no more claims, no more demands. Israelis are prepared to go a very long way. And I’m prepared to lead them a very long way to make peace. But this has to be a real peace, secure and an end to conflict." [Netanyahu, Council on Foreign Relations, 8 July]

The fruits of peace:

"There is sort of an economic miracle in the Palestinian areas. The Palestinian leadership has been doing important things there. But they would have come to naught if we hadn’t changed the policies. Because you can’t have a robust economic and commercial growth if you can’t move goods and people. It’s just impossible. And we facilitated them, and we changed it overnight. Not as a substitute for a political peace, but as a facilitator. The economic peace that I’ve spoken about that has come to pass is a very good supporter of a political peace." [Netanyahu, Council on Foreign Relations, 8 July]

3. Iran

"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 its efforts.  And I think there is a great danger to the world, not only to my country, but to the United States, to the Middle East, to the peace, to all of humanity from the prospect that such a regime, that brutalizes its own people, that sponsors terrorism more than any other regime in the world, that this regime acquires atomic bombs is very, very dangerous." [Netanyahu, Fox News Sunday, 11 July]

"I very much appreciate the President’s statement that he is determined to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. That has been translated by the President into his leadership at the Security Council, which passed sanctions against Iran; by the U.S. bill that the President signed just a few days ago." [Netanyahu, White House remarks, 6 July] "I think the sanctions the President signed the other day actually have teeth. They bite." [Netanyahu, White House remarks, 6 July] 

"We intend to continue to put pressure on Iran to meet its international obligations and to cease the kinds of provocative behavior that has made it a threat to its neighbors and the international community." [Obama, White House remarks, 6 July]

"There’s only been one time that Iran actually stopped the program and that was when it feared U.S. military action. So 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." [Netanyahu, Fox News Sunday, 11 July]

Netanyahu urged "other leaders to follow the President’s lead and other countries to follow the U.S. lead, to adopt much tougher sanctions against Iran, primarily those directed against its energy sector." [Netanyahu, White House remarks, 6 July] "There is now a broader, and I would argue, a deeper understanding of the potential dangers of a nuclear-armed Iran. You hear it in Europe. You hear it in just about every private conversation that I or my staff have with Arab leaders and Arab officials, almost every single one. There is just about no exception. All of these leaders understand that Iran is not merely a threat to Israel, a nuclear-armed Iran. They understand that if the world’s greatest sponsor of terror gets the world’s most dangerous weapon, it is a threat to the region and a threat to the entire world."  [Netanyahu, Council on Foreign Relations, 8 July]

4. Nuclear weapons free zone

"As far as a nuclear weapons-free zone, when the lion lies down with the lamb and you don’t need a new lamb every day to satisfy the lion, then we might have this kind of transformation in the Middle East.  But so far, you know who’s been violating the nuclear non-proliferation pact day and night: those who signed it, Iran, Iraq, Libya.  And Iran violates it while calling for Israel’s destruction and racing to develop atomic weapons to that end. So I think we should stay focused on the real problem in the Middle East. It’s not Israel. It’s these dictatorships that are developing nuclear weapons with the specific goal of wiping Israel away." [Netanyahu, Fox News Sunday, 11 July]

5. Gaza

"Our policy is that weapons and war-supporting material don’t go in. And everything else should go in. Food and everything else should go in. So I changed that policy. And I’m glad I did it, because I think there’s clarity and there’s common sense in it." [Netanyahu, Larry King Live, CNN, 7 July]
"I commended Prime Minister Netanyahu on the progress that’s been made in allowing more goods into Gaza. We’ve seen real progress on the ground. I think it’s been acknowledged that it has moved more quickly and more effectively than many people anticipated." [Obama, White House remarks, 6 July] "I think that some of the steps that have already been taken in Gaza help to build confidence. And if we continue to make progress on that front, then Palestinians can see in very concrete terms what peace can bring that rhetoric and violence cannot bring." [Obama, White House remarks, 6 July]

The need to maintain Israel’s "legitimate security needs in not allowing missiles and weapons to get to Hamas" [Obama, White House remarks, 6 July] was recognized by the US.