Netanyahu: I stand for Israel, not for Republicans or Democrats
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu detailed his extensive ties with members of both parties in the US, during his remarks to the Knesset days after Democratic candidate Joe Biden was elected president.
“I don’t stand for Republicans or Democrats. I stand only for the State of Israel, and that will continue with the next [American] government,” Netanyahu said. “That is how a prime minister of Israel must act, not bowing his head or [behaving] obsequiously, but not arrogantly. [He must act] as someone fighting for his people, his land and his country.”
Netanyahu’s remarks came after opposition leader Yair Lapid said Netanyahu “abandoned relations between Israel and the Democratic party.”
“For 38 years I have been investing nonstop efforts into strengthening our relations with the US with both parties, with presidents, members of the House, the Senate, public opinion, with hundreds of interviews on television and radio for the Right and Left,” Netanyahu said. “He’s going to explain to me how to keep up the relations? That’s absurd.”
Netanyahu said that whenever he goes to Capitol Hill, he meets leaders of both parties, and he meets every Senator and Member of Congress that visits Israel, regardless of party or whatever else he has on his agenda at the time. He specified that he met with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer four times each, and that he has known Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer for nearly 40 years. He met Vice President-elect Harris when she visited Israel in 2017.
“I see a great importance in explaining Israel’s positions to both sides of the House,” he said. “But I don’t just explain Israel’s stances, I stand up for them.”
When Netanyahu and former US president Barack Obama disagreed, the former said, citing examples, he “stood firmly for our vital interests.”
“This didn’t hurt or destroy our relationship with America. Our alliance is strong even when there are disagreements. Despite the disagreements with President Obama, we reached an agreement for $38 bn. in military aid, the largest aid package in history,” Netanyahu pointed out.
Netanyahu also emphasized his personal relationship with the president-elect, saying: “I have warm ties with Joe Biden. We met when he was a young senator and I was an attaché in Washington” in the 1980s.
The prime minister did not mention last week’s presidential election or call Biden president-elect. Trump, who will remain president until January 20, has said he will contest Biden’s apparent victory in court.
Netanyahu described two moments with Biden that are “engraved in [his] heart,” first, Biden’s words of comfort when Netanyahu’s father died in 2012, and second, a long conversation they had after Biden’s son, Beau, died in 2015.
“Some things are beyond politics and diplomacy,” he said.
Lapid called Netanyahu's remarks "embarrassing" and said his "disconnect from what is happening in recent years in the US is so big that he doesn't know what Democrats and the new administration say about the person who established 'Trump Heights'...Netanyahu made a thoughtless bet and endangered the special relationship between Israel and the US. Only a new government can fix that."
Netanyahu made his remarks during a Knesset debate on normalization between Israel and Bahrain.
He thanked “our great friend President Donald Trump for all that he has done for Israel,” listing the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and of Israeli sovereignty in the Golan Heights, the pressure campaign against Iran, standing up for Israel in the UN and for promoting peace between Israel and Arab states.
“I praise my friend Joe Biden, together with [running mate] Kamala Harris, who praised these peace treaties,” the prime minister added.
Netanyahu said that there are more Arab states that are fostering ties with Israel below the surface, and expressed hope that more will become public over time.
“The circle of peace will broaden, with stability and growth, creating a force facing off against radical Islam led by Iran,” he stated.