Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Netanyahu: Gulf States' decision to blacklist Hezbollah a sign of improving ties with Israel

Lahav Harkov, Ariel Ben Solomon, Jerusalem Post

Netanyahu image from article
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday praised the Gulf states that declared Hezbollah a terrorist organization . ...
Netanyahu’s remarks about Hezbollah were part of a debate on foreign policy, initiated by Yesh Atid, during which the opposition slammed the prime minister, saying he is leading the country into crisis.
“Mr. Prime Minister, Israel cannot go without a foreign minister because of petty political concerns,” said Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid. “We must recognize that we have a deep and significant problem in Israel’s foreign relations, and take care of it.”
Netanyahu also holds the Foreign Affairs portfolio.
Lapid listed the many foreign politicians with whom he has met in recent months, saying they all could not understand Israel’s policies and goals.
“I defended the government, but I and no one else has an answer to the question, ‘What does the government want?’ Everything is stuck. Nothing is moving,” he said.
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union) focused his speech on mocking Lapid, saying the Yesh Atid head wants to be Netanyahu’s foreign minister and so will prevent the Likud leader from ever losing his premiership.
Turning to Netanyahu, Herzog said: “Israel doesn’t have a policy. Sitting and doing nothing isn’t a policy. ‘Managing the conflict’ isn’t a policy... Israel, under your leadership, has no policy, so how can it have a foreign policy? How can it have public diplomacy? How can we explain the lack of policy? Yair, Yair, what exactly are you explaining... even if you want to look like a foreign minister?” Herzog said that, even though he doesn’t “make speeches as well as Bibi and Yair,” he works hard and has a diplomatic plan, which he proceeded to describe and defend again. ...
Netanyahu’s message was that Israel’s foreign relations are improving in all areas, and he brought examples of the many leaders from around the world who come to the country.
The prime minister recounted that, when he was a child, when a foreign leader visited Israel, it made it into newsreels at the movie theaters.
Now, he said, leaders visit so often, that many don’t even make it into the 8 o’clock news.
“Can I get some diplomatic isolation so I have time to breathe?” he quipped.
Israel, he pointed out, has diplomatic relations with 161 countries, more than ever before, as well as others with which it has unofficial ties.
“I can count on my fingers the countries that don’t have any relations with Israel: North Korea, Iran, the Islamic State, the Houthis,” he said.
The true picture of Israel’s international standing, Netanyahu said, is that “there are problems, but there is a great flourishing in our relations with the nations of the world. As a responsible government, we will continue to strengthen our ties with these states, and I am convinced that the diplomatic momentum we see will continue and increase. There will be obstacles, but the trend is clear and undeniable."
“Our [international standing] comes from our strength and our consistent and determined policy. The way to protect our standing is not to weaken ourselves with dangerous concessions. If there’s something that will harm our standing, it is only that. The way to strengthen our standing is to continue growing stronger in all areas. That is w hat we did and what we will continue to do,” he said.

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