PM: Israel could make more 'unilateral' moves

In Washington, Netanyahu apologizes for saying "huge numbers of Arabs" came to vote on election day.

Ben Ariel,

Netanyahu at the Center for American Progress
Netanyahu at the Center for American Progress
Haim Zach/GPO

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Tuesday once again apologized for remarks he made on election day with regards to Israeli Arabs and which had angered the Obama administration.

Netanyahu had warned on election day that "huge numbers of Arabs" were coming out to vote, adding that many were being brought to the polling booths by V-15 and other NGOs funded from abroad.

The remarks caused a firestorm in Israeli media, with many accusing the Prime Minister of using racism to win over voters. The United States was similarly displeased with Netanyahu's comments, with White House Spokesman Josh Earnest having noted they were "deeply concerned by decisive rhetoric that seeks to marginalize Arab-Israeli citizens."

On Tuesday, speaking at the Center for American Progress (CAP) in Washington, Netanyahu admitted the remarks were a mistake and noted that more Israeli Arabs had voted for the Likud than for the Labor party.

“When I was elected I declared that I am committed to all citizens of the country and approved plans at billions of shekels which aim at improving infrastructure in Arab towns and the entry of Arab citizens into Israeli industry. I am the prime minister of everyone,” he stressed.

In his remarks, Netanyahu also did not rule out a possible unilateral Israeli move in Judea and Samaria, though he stressed, "Such a move will have to meet Israel's security criteria, as well as require greater international understanding than there is now."

At the same time, the Prime Minister also reiterated his readiness to negotiate with Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas, noting that Abbas "spoke with me for a total of six hours cumulatively over the last few years."

Netanyahu also said that he is the prime minister who has the built the least in Judea and Samaria, telling the American center, "No new settlements have been built in the last 20 years, even before I was prime minister for the first time. The additions are to existing communities, the map has not changed significantly."




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