Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke at the 50th anniversary ceremony of the Israel National Defense College Wednesday night, where he took the opportunity to emphasize the importance of Israel to defend itself.
"We are engaging in complex and difficult negotiations," Netanyahu stated. "We stand firmly on our own interests, but any agreement must include two fundamental principles: recognition of a Jewish national state and an end to the conflict [between Israel and the Palestinian Authority]."
Netanyahu's remarks follow a furor between the US and Israel over the negotiations, after Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon harshly criticized the US's involvement in the peace talks. Ya'alon eventually apologized for those remarks; US Secretary of State John Kerry downplayed the public debate.
"Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and I talk regularly and we are both very committed to moving the process forward, and we just can't let one set of comments undermine that effort and I don't intend to," Kerry said.
"Everywhere I go, even here today, everybody I talk to expresses gratitude to the efforts the United States is making, for President (Barack) Obama's commitment to try to make peace between Palestinians and Israelis," he told reporters earlier Wednesday. "There are hard choices to be made. We are going to work with both sides."
"I am going to work with the willing participants who are committed to peace and committed to this process, and after five months of negotiations, I believe strongly in the prospect for peace and I know that the status quo is not sustainable," he added.
As for Iran's nuclear program, the Prime Minister stressed that he is committed to preventing nuclear armament. "This is a huge threat that cannot be underestimated," he maintained. "It would mean the threat of nuclearization of the country whose national aim includes the the destruction of Israel."
"We cannot accept a nuclear Iran, or [even an Iran with] the capability to produce nuclear bombs," he stated. "We must prevent it. Israel reserves the right to defend itself in every way."