Israel and the United States remain divided on the question of the Iranian nuclear project, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday in previews of a series of interviews with Israeli media, which will be aired after Yom Kippur.
Explaining the differences between the two countries, Netanyahu, who met with U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington on Wednesday, said that the U.S. wants to prevent Iran from possessing nuclear weapons, while Israel wants to deny it the capability of developing nuclear weapons in a short period of time.
“It’s what is called the ‘breakout’ or the ‘breakout time,'” the prime minister said. “The time that it takes to produce a weapon from the moment they kick out the inspectors, operate all the centrifuges and begin producing uranium sufficiently enriched for a weapon. If you’re talking about 5,000 centrifuges, it can be very significant.”
Netanyahu added that not only he thought that a nuclear Iran was bad for the world. “The Arab countries, almost all of them, agree,” he said.
“I can’t say I left [the meeting] satisfied; what I can say is that I expressed the issues that are important to the state of Israel.”
Regarding the purchase of housing units in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan for Jewish settlement, Netanyahu said that he “cannot accept” the Obama Administration position, which he described as “Jews buy houses in Jerusalem and it’s defined as a sin, a violent attack and poison.”
He added: “If you were to tell me that Jews here in the U.S., in some city or neighborhood, were forbidden from building a house – a terrible fuss would ensue.
So, Jews can’t buy a house in Jerusalem? They can buy in Jerusalem and whatever they want. It’s the way to maintain coexistence.”
The premier slammed the Peace Now organization forleaking information about a plan to build housing units in the Givat Hamatos area in East Jerusalem shortly before his meeting with Obama.
“It’s a lack of responsibility, really, on an international scale, for any element to publicize some statutory plan in order to sabotage a very important meeting in which the Iranian nuclear project, our basic security, the Islamic State group and other things were discussed,”Netanyahu said. “Simply a lack of responsibility.”
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon also rejected criticism of the settlement, saying that Israel would “continue to build and develop Jerusalem without apologizing.”
The prime minister defended having dinner in New York with casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who spent millions of dollars in the last elections to keep Obama out of the White House. “I meet with friends from all sides of the political arena,” he said. “On the basis of personal friendships going back many years. Both Democrats and Republicans.”
Turning to internal politics, Netanyahu said that “the most important thing in my view is to lead the county in a secure and stable manner. If it is possible to do that in the current coalition and avoid new elections, that would be best. I don’t think it’s a good idea to go to elections every two-and-a-half years.”
He said that a coalition with Israel’s religious parties was always a possibility, “but it’s not only up to me.” He added that he would have preferred a a wider coalition to the current one.
“Facing the Islamic State in the east, Al-Nusra on the Golan, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the south and an Iran that wants to go nuclear, we need the widest possible unity government. But this sort of partnership needs to be built by the participants.”