The Israeli Prime Minster expressed doubts over negotiations as well as concerns about Iran as the ‘ultimate terrorist threat today.’In an interview held on Sunday, Benjamin Netanyahu said that he does not think a Middle East peace deal will be attained by 2012, which runs contrary to Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad’s goal to have infrastructure for a Palestinian state by the end of next year.
In regards to whether or not he thought peace was attainable by 2012, the prime minister told Fox News, ‘Can we have a negotiated peace? Yes. Can it be implemented by 2012? I think it’s going to take longer than that.’
The news agency Reuters reported that Netanyahu discussed the future of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations with U.S. President Barack Obama last Tuesday in Washington D.C. The two leaders are optimistic that direct talks will commence in the near future.
For the time being, the Israel government is communicating to the Palestinians through Obama’s Special Envoy for Middle East Peace, George Mitchell. Netanyahu stated publicly that we would take ‘concrete steps’ within the next few weeks to encourage the Palestinians to catalyze the peace process.
The Israeli Prime Minister will meet this week in Egypt with President Hosni Mubarak for further discussion on the topic of direct peace talks.
In the interview with Fox, Netanyahu declared that Iran is ‘the ultimate terrorist threat today.’ The prime minister extended his concern when he stated that Iran was ‘just moving on with its efforts’ in its nuclear weapons development program which he considers, ‘very, very dangerous.’
Netanyahu stated, ‘…we should not allow irrational regimes like Iran to have nuclear weapons. It’s the ultimate terrorist threat today.’ The prime minister also said, ‘[w]e always reserve the right to defend ourselves.’ The Israeli government has yet to confirm or deny the long held beliefs that Israeli military possesses the only nuclear weapons supply in the Middle East.
The Iranian government maintains that its nuclear program is only for providing fuel to a civilian energy program. Yet, the U.S. and other countries are not convinced by Tehran’s claims and have implemented a round of U.N. and unilateral sanctions against Iran to halt its nuclear ambitions.
Netanyahu stated, ‘There’s only been one time that Iran actually stopped the program and that was when it feared U.S. military action…So when [Obama] says that he’s 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.’
The prime minister did not seem interested in answering a question about the possibility of the Middle East being an area which has no nuclear weapons. He used the question as an opportunity to accuse Iran, Iraq, and Libya of violating a non-proliferation pact.
Netanyahu does not believe that Israel is the problem in the Middle East, ‘It’s these dictatorships that are developing nuclear weapons with the specific goal of wiping Israel away.’