NetanyahuIsrael news photo: Flash 90

The entire conflict between Israel and the Arabs is over their denial of Israel’s right to exist and not about Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday.

Netanyahu spoke at the meeting of the National Public Diplomacy Forum to summarize the recent Operation Pillar of Defense, which targeted Hamas’s terror infrastructure in Gaza.

Participating in the meeting were the head of the National Information Directorate in the Prime Minister's Office and senior public diplomacy officials from the Foreign Ministry, Defense Ministry, the IDF, the Israel Police, the Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Ministry and other bodies.

“This forum and its coordinated work of which during Operation Pillar of Defense are an important component in our national resilience. I think that this operation proved the importance of public diplomacy,” Netanyahu said.

“What was the war about? The war was about our very existence. We left areas that we captured in the Six Day War, like the Gaza Strip, and they fire missiles at us.

“Therefore, our top public diplomacy mission is to explain that the root of this conflict is not territorial,” said Netanyahu. “It is over our very existence in any borders whatsoever.

“From 1967 until today, for 45 years, day in, day out, and hour by hour, they have been preaching the complete opposite. So certainly the lie has taken root, and there is no way to fight a lie except with the truth. We must tell the truth; it is the only thing that we can do and we must certainly do so.

“We must constantly repeat that the root of the conflict is the very existence of the State of Israel, the refusal to recognize the State of Israel in any borders whatsoever.

“The second thing is their methods, mainly their desire to intentionally attack civilians.

“There is a link between the first and second points. Whoever uses such methods is beyond the pale internationally, morally and legally. He does not want peace.

“The root of the conflict is not the settlements; it is the very existence of the State of Israel and the desire to wipe it off the face of the earth. We can anticipate many developments and changes in this evolving Middle East that we face, and some of them are very, very disturbing."

Netanyahu has been facing international pressure over the last several days, after Israel announced it would be building 3,000 new homes in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem, and would be promoting new building plans in E1, a long-standing request.

The Israeli move came in response to the Palestinian Authority’s unilateral move in the UN, when the General Assembly approved with an overwhelming majority PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s request to upgrade the PA’s status to that of a non-member observer state.

Over the past four years Abbas has continuously refused to negotiate with Israel and has instead chosen to set preconditions for talks. Even when Israel froze Jewish construction in the so-called “disputed territories” for ten months, Abbas chose not to return to the negotiating table.

Government secretary Tzvi Hauser responded Tuesday to pressure from the international community against Israel’s approval for construction of new housing in the Jerusalem area.

“If someone thinks that Israel will avoid building in neighborhoods in its capital city due to reprimands or pressure, that person does not fully grasp Israel’s interests in the region,” he told Kol Yisrael radio.

The government is committed to Israel’s interests in Jerusalem, he said, even if it means standing up to disapproval.