Israeli Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu pushed back on criticism of his incoming right-wing government, vowing in an interview with NBC News Sunday that he will not permit an erosion of Israeli democracy in his upcoming term as premier.
Speaking with “Meet the Press,” Netanyahu defended criticism of Public Security Minister-designate Itamar Ben-Gvir, while also vowing to limit changes to the status quo by his conservative allies with regard to hot-button social issues.
Netanyahu noted the presence of the United Arab List (Ra’am) – which is affiliated with the southern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel – in the outgoing coalition government, whose members have warned of an impending erosion of LGBT rights.
“On Ben-Gvir, the Supreme Court looked into his eligibility and said that he could,” Netanyahu said. “We just had a government where the party that is beholden to the Muslim Brotherhood, who don’t believe in any democratic values, LGBT rights, women’s rights, and so on.”
“They were part of the government, and I didn’t hear a word from all the chorus of critics who came out.”
Netanyahu vowed to limit his conservative allies’ ability to determine state policy on social issues, citing his record on LGBT issues.
“On the LGBT questions. I just won’t accept any of that. It isn’t just something I’m saying now, I have a record… a record in general of having two hands on the wheel. And I ultimately decide policy.”
Israel’s longest-serving premier also played up the Abraham Accords, adding that he hopes to reach new agreements with additional Arab states.
“I’ve had these doomsayers saying that ‘this is the end of democracy;’ they’ve been saying that for 30 years, they characterized me as a warmonger.”
“There were fewer wars than at any other time, fewer casualties. The safest decade in our history.”
“I don’t go into unnecessary military adventures.”
“I brought four historic peace treaties in ways that defied everybody else’s prognostications.”
“I’m going to safeguard Israeli democracy, I’m going to bring peace, categorically.”
“And I’m going to stop Iran. That’s what I’m coming back for, and that’s what I’m committed to.”
Turning to former President Donald Trump, Netanyahu chided the 45th President over his recent dinner meeting with Kanye West and Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes, even as he noted Trump’s pro-Israel bonafides.
"President Trump did great things for Israel," Netanyahu said. "He recognized Jerusalem as our capital, long over due since King David proclaimed it as such... he moved the embassy there, he recognized our sovereignty in the Golan Heights. He got out of... the disastrous Iran deal."
The meeting at Mar-a-Lago with Fuentes and Kanye, however, was “not merely unacceptable, it’s just wrong. And I hope he sees his way to staying out of it and condemning it."
Trump “probably understands that it crosses a line.”
Netanyahu downplayed demands by all five of his future coalition allies that the Law of Return be amended to remove the grandfather clause, saying “I doubt” any such changes will be made in the next government.