After spending much of the past five days bemoaning Benjamin Netanyahu's "hard turn right" NBC News' Andrea Mitchell finally asked Israeli Prime Minister about his supposed no two-state solution comment. Bibi told Mitchell what those who actually read his statement already knew, "I never changed my policy or retracted my speech six years ago, calling for a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish State." Despite what the Israeli Premier said, Mitchell kept clinging to her interpretation.
Mitchell began by going straight to the point:
MITCHELL: Congratulations on your victory. But -- there's always a but, critics and analysts here and around the world are saying at what cost? Your hard turn right on the Palestinian issue, what you said about the Arab voters coming out in droves they say are costing you, costing you support around the world.
NETANYAHU: Well, neither one is -- the premises in your questions are wrong. I never changed my policy. I never retracted my speech at Bar Ilan University six years ago, calling for a demilitarized Palestinian State that recognizes the Jewish State. What has changed is the reality. Abu Mazen, the Palestinian leader, refuses to recognize the Jewish State and made a pact with Hamas that calls for destruction of Jewish State, and every territory that is vacated today in the Middle East is taken up by Islamist forces. We want that to change so we can realize a vision of real sustained real peace. I don't want a one-state solution. I want a sustainable, peaceful two-state solution, but for that circumstances have to change.
Almost as if she didn't hear what Netanyahu had just said (or didn't care) Mitchell asked:
MITCHELL: But you were reelected on a mandate; certainly Israeli voters, your supporters believe you were re-elected on a mandate against a two-state solution. That is the way the White House is interpreting-- the White House says this is divisive, so divisive that now the administration is saying they will not stop the U.N. from conferring statehood. They will not block or at least they are strongly considering not blocking a vote for statehood for Palestinians.
NETANYAHU: First of all, that state would become a terrorist state. Iran says that they will arm the West Bank the way they arm Gaza. We withdrew from Gaza, just a few months ago, not ancient history but just a few months got thousands of rockets Andrea on our heads. We don't want it to happen again. I think the administration has said time and time again the only way to achieve peace is a negotiated solution, you can't impose peace. In any case If you want to get peace, you've got to get the Palestinian leadership to abandon their pact with Hamas and engage in genuine negotiations with Israel for an achievable peace. We also have to make sure that we don't have ISIS coming into that territory; it's only two-dozen miles away from our borders, thousands of miles away from yours. So we need the recognitions of a Jewish state and real security in order to have a realistic two-state solution. I was talking about what is achievable and what is not achievable. To make it achievable, then you have to have real negotiations with people who are committed to peace. We are -- it's time we saw the pressure on the Palestinians to show that they are committed too.
Netanyahu later responded to Mitchell’s monologue quoting various leftist pundits, including Thomas Friedman and Jeffrey Goldberg, slamming him for his comments about Arabs. In the response he brought up the influence of foreign money on the Israeli elections, including American money:
NETANYAHU: I am very proud of the fact that Israel is the one country in a very broad radius in which Arabs have free and fair elections. That’s sacrosanct; that will never change. I met a few days ago with the Arab supporters, many Arab supporters of Likud. I met them in the north of the country and I said, “Look, I am concerned with the massive foreign-funded effort, massive foreign money-"
MITCHELL: Foreign money, U.S. money?
NETANYAHU: Big NGO’s, that are coming in here with foreign money and it’s all over the place.
MITCHELL: You said tens of millions of dollars.
NETANYAHU: Well, definitely millions, and I said it looks like maybe tens of millions of dollars that are coming in-
MITCHELL: From America?
NETANYAHU: Among other places. Foreign funders; that’s important. But what has happened, I said that they would try to get out votes for a specific party, an amalgamation of Islamists and other anti-Israel groups. And I said, when that happens, make sure we get out our vote. I wasn’t trying to suppress a vote; I was trying to get something to counter a foreign-funded effort to get votes that are intended to topple my party and I was calling on our voters to come out. And by the way, quite a few of them, we got quite a few Arab voters for the Likud, and I’m very proud of that.
It was very convenient for Mitchell, the rest of the mainstream media and the White House to take half of Netanyahu's statement and spin it the way they want, but the truth is that Bibi never said he didn't believe in a two-state solution, nor did he ever say he would block a two-state solution; what he said was a Palestinian state would never be formed while he was premier because it would become a base for radical Islam.
Last week CNN reported what the Prime Minister actually said:
Asked by an interviewer with the Israeli news site, NRG, if it was true that a Palestinian nation would never be formed while he's prime minister, Netanyahu replied, "Indeed."
His interview with NRG came as he courted conservative supporters a day before Israelis head to the polls for national elections.
"Anyone who is going to establish a Palestinian state, anyone who is going to evacuate territories today, is simply giving a base for attacks to the radical Islam against Israel," he said. "This is the true reality that was created here in the last few years."
Netanyahu went on to say that any opponents on the left who might argue otherwise are "sticking their head in the sand, time and time again."