Netanyahu: My relationship with Trump is 'excellent'

Prime Minister Netanyahu addresses pro-Israel Christian media gala in Jerusalem, discusses Kurdish independence, Iranian threat.

Arutz Sheva Staff , | updated: 9:07 AM

Netanyahu at Christian Media Summit
Netanyahu at Christian Media Summit
Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu gave the keynote address at the Christian Media Summit in Jerusalem Sunday night, focusing on the Iranian regime, relations between the US and Israel, and religious freedom in the Middle East.

“You know, you are joining us as we celebrate 50 years since the Holy City was liberated and united; 50 years of religious freedom for all,” Netanyahu told members of American Christian media outlets. “You know that because you walk around, you go to the holy sites, you go to the churches, others go to the mosques, and you know this is a free city.”

“I want you also to join us in looking forward to the day when the embassies of all your countries move to Jerusalem.”

The Prime Minister praised Christian allies of Israel, and noted that Israel remains one of the few havens for Middle East Christians in a region where religious minorities have suffered increased persecution at the hands of Muslim extremists.

“Israel has no better friends – I mean that – no better friends in the world than the Christian communities around the world. And Israel is the one country in a vast region where Christians not only survive, they thrive.

“You know the truth about Israel's history and the truth about our commitment to freedom. Freedom is under a challenge all the time, and I think it scored a big victory the other day. I want to thank President Trump for his courageous speech outlining a new course against Iran, the enemy of our free civilization.

“Iran is a threat to the entire world, but today I want to focus on Iran's war against Christians. As you all know, Christians are brutally persecuted in the Islamic Republic. Pastors are jailed for no reason, no reason other than for being Christian leaders. Christians have been lashed. You hear this? Christians have been lashed for sipping wine during prayer services; Christians have been brutally tortured for doing nothing more than practicing their faith.”

Netanyahu also addressed Iran’s efforts to acquire nuclear weapons, as well as cooperation between Israel and the Arab world to combat Tehran’s atomic ambitions.

"Well, I think there are two issues that the President was concerned with and we're all concerned with, and coincidentally, on this Israel and the leading Arab states see eye to eye. And I said today in interviews on American television, I said, you know, when Israel and the main Arab countries see eye to eye, you should pay attention, because something important is happening. We're here. We know what we see. Here's what we see: We see two great dangers emanating from Iran. The first danger is the danger of a nuclear armed Iran, which is virtually guaranteed if this agreement is not changed or scrapped. Because that's where it's leading. It's leading not merely to Iran's capability to have an atomic weapon, one bomb. It virtually opens up the field so they can have within a decade 100 bombs, a vast nuclear arsenal. And this is Iran, which is, its economy is 30 times the size of North Korea. So you can imagine the world's foremost terrorist regime armed with an arsenal of nuclear weapons. Is that going to produce peace? Is that going to produce progress? Because people said, well, if Iran signs this deal, two years ago, three years ago, when they were negotiating this deal and they were arguing for it. They said, once Iran signs this deal, then, they said, it would join the community of nations.”

“So Iran received the first installment of about 50 billion dollars coming in to its coffers, and what did they do? They didn't join the community of nations. They're devouring the nations one after the other. They're in Yemen firing rockets deep into Saudi Arabia; they're in Iraq killing people, now squeezing the Kurds; they're in Syria, colonizing Syria and the intent to turn Syria into a military base for their war of destruction against Israel.”

Turning to the US-Israel relationship, Netanyahu praised President Trump, adding that he had an “excellent” rapport with the president.

"Our relationship is fine, it's excellent actually, and there's, I think, a sense of warmth and an instinctive understanding on many important things. Now mind you, I want you to put this also in perspective. Yes I had some differences, like on Iran and a few other things, with President Obama, but it didn't really alter the solidity of the American-Israeli alliance. We also signed a MoU [Memorandum of Understanding] that I appreciate, I don't forget, it was important. So I think there is a basic alliance there that transcends differences that we may have over particular issues.

“But the issue of Iran wasn't just another issue. The issue of Iran is existential for us. And I felt compelled to take our case to the American Congress because that deal, so-called deal, was a direct threat to our future, to our existence. I think there's been a change with regard to this central issue, because, because I think President Trump correctly identifies that Iran is not the solution but perhaps the problem in the Middle East. The problem. The source of so much aggression, so much terror and so much misery.

“And he wants to… He took a very courageous step yesterday, because what he did was, he could have kicked the can forward, he could have said, well it's not going to happen on my watch, so why should I deal with it. You know, Iran will become a nuclear power with a nuclear arsenal, if we just let the deal go through but it won't happen on my watch. But he said, no, it's the duty of leaders, and it's perhaps the most difficult duty of leaders, to ward off danger before it becomes apparent to everyone, because when it becomes apparent to everyone, it may be too late.

“So I really appreciate what he did yesterday on this point, which is obviously very important for Israel, but also I think very important for the United States and for the future of the world. The relationship is good. I want to thank you all for your continued support for the State of Israel. I think when you and your readers and viewers and listeners, when they look at the Middle East and they see the forces that are aligned against the values we hold dear, you see a beacon of light, a towering beacon of light. Israel is not that big a country, you know that. It's a small country, but it's a gigantic country, because we stand on the shoulders of giants: the giants of the bible, the giants of Jewish history, the people who gave us our deepest values, which we share and which we cherish.”