Daily Israel Report

Netanyahu Reassures Public: No Freeze in Jerusalem

Prime Minister reiterates pledges on Jerusalem in TV interview, says press exaggerates the rift with US President Obama.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 4/22/2010, 10:23 PM / Last Update: 4/22/2010, 10:41 PM

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In an interview with Channel 2 television news, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that there will not be a construction freeze in Jerusalem, and that there is “a full understanding that there must not be preconditions for negotiations.”

“Our policy on Jerusalem will not change,” he said, noting that his government's policy on the 3,000-year-old Jewish capital was the same as that of all Israeli governments in the last 43 years.

He tried to play down the perception that US President Barack Obama humiliated him in his recent visit to Washington. “He is not humiliating me,” he muttered in an undertone, then asserted: “The United States does not agree with us about everything. There are ups and downs. There are difficult things and there were some even more difficult things. But there is a very strong fabric of relations that lets us overcome these problems.”

The meaning of independence
When pressed by interviewer Yonit Levy on Jerusalem, Netanyahu asked: “Why should I give up in Jerusalem?” Turning from defense to offense, he asked her where she was born. She told him that she was originally from French Hill in Jerusalem. Netanyahu, who may have known the answer in advance, explained that the current argument is over parts of Jerusalem like French Hill, which were unpopulated when they were liberated in 1967.

The United States reportedly wants Israel to freeze construction in the sections of Jerusalem that were under Jordanian occupation from 1948 to 1967.

Asked whether he could trust the US to lead the campaign against Iran, Netanyahu said Israel preferred a scenario in which the Americans take the lead. He reminded viewers, however, that Israel had just celebrated Independence Day – and that Jewish independence meant “first and foremost a Jewish state, and the ability to defend ourselves. Israel will always retain the right of self-defense.”