Israel’s PM, Benjamin Netanyahu, offered an interview a couple of days ago for STIRIPESURSE.RO.
From his office in Jerusalem, Netanyahu talked about the issue of moving some Embassies from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, after Donald Trump’s statement, about ISIS, Iran and also about Israel’s relationship with Romania.
Reporter: Everyone was surprised when President Trump announced moving SUA Embassy to Jerusalem. Were you surprised?
Benjamin Netanyahu: I was not surprised, because he promised in his political campaign that he would do this and he did it. He did what it was right. It is absurd to state, after 3000 years since king David established that Israel was our capital and after 70 years since Jerusalem is the capital of Modern Israel, that Jerusalem is not our capital. President Trump declares what it is obvious. I am glad that he stated what everyone knows what is definitely true. He had the courage to say it.
Reporter: What has surprised you more, reactions from the Islamic World, responses from the European countries?
Benjamin Netanyahu: I have never seen such a strong reaction in the Islamic capitals before. On the contrary. Maybe there were some more reactions in European capitals than in Islamic capitals. I believe that sometimes people accepted lies. There is a common lie saying that you should not declare that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. People repeated it until someone has the courage to say that “the emperor is naked”. Where does it take place in this interview?
Reporter: in Jerusalem.
Benjamin Netanyahu: Yes. This is the PM’s office. In Jerusalem. Our Parliament is in Jerusalem. The Supreme Court of Israel is a couple streets far, in Jerusalem. The headquarters of the Government is here, here it will remain, and consequently, it is absurd to suppose something else.
Reporter: However from now only Guatemala and USA declared they would move their embassies in Jerusalem.
Benjamin Netanyahu: I think that many countries will follow. We are in discussion with some other countries.
Reporter: How are these discussions?
Benjamin Netanyahu: It is easy. We simply talk. I think that there is a common interest between several countries to do the same. After SUA will move their embassy, I expect that other countries to do the same in a short time.
Reporter: Even European countries?
Benjamin Netanyahu: Some European countries, yes.
Reporter: Why do you believe that this process is so slow?
Benjamin Netanyahu: It takes some time for people to adapt to new realities. This matter is true in all the areas. Yet I think that this process is unstoppable. Soon we will see more and more countries and we will face reality.
Reporter: You have recently discussed with the President of Romania, Mr. Klaus Iohannis. Mr. President made a press statement, but it was not clear what had been decided.
Benjamin Netanyahu: Normally, I do not reveal the matters I discuss with presidents, but I do appreciate President Johannis and Romanian people’s friendship. By the way, through all the successive administrations, I have to say that I maintained good relations and strong friendships. Still, some discussions are based on discretion, so I am discreet too.
Reporter: Do you think that Romania will move their embassy to Jerusalem?
Benjamin Netanyahu: You have to ask President Johannis. I hope so, soon. But I have to tell you that it is only a hope and nothing more.
Reporter: Romania has a strategic partnership with the USA, and also a close relationship with Israel. In Romania, many politicians talk about the need of an international lawyer. Can Israel be Romania’s lawyer regarding the relationship with SUA?
Benjamin Netanyahu: I do not think Romania needs lawyers. No one needs lawyers. I think that you must make the people aware of the friendship with SUA and of the fact that you share the same democratic values. Israel has been doing this thing systematically over the years and the American support towards Israel has never been stronger. A very strong support among people. Americans appreciate democracy, and Romania is a democracy and has many shared principles with SUA. Let these things be known! We say these things as well in SUA , we say good things about our friends from all over the world.
Reporter: You have here in Israel a strong Romanian community. Even your doctor is from Romania...
Benjamin Netanyahu: Yes, you have to understand that I trust Romanians, otherwise I would not let my personal doctor treat me. I say this as a joke, but it is not a joke. There is a true friendship between all the Israeli and those Israeli from Romania too. It is a highly appreciated and loved community in Israel.
Reporter: Is the level of economic exchanges between the two countries still too low?
Benjamin Netanyahu: I agree. It should be higher. There were many Israeli investments in Romania over the years, but I agree that we should increase out commercial relations. I would like to see more Romanian tourists coming here. They should come and visit Israel not only as a modern state, but also as a “holly place”, the place were you can find the origins of Christianity. I believe that it is something that it will stimulate their imagination: the past and present in the same place.
Reporter: The Americans and the Russians say that ISIS was defeated in Syria. Does Israel have the same opinion?
Benjamin Netanyahu: It is partly true. The work is not fully done, but it is on the point of happening. Israel contributed to defeating ISIS in many ways. One of the ways in which we contributed was offering excellent and unprecedented intel about plans for over 30 terrorist attacks, some of them that would have been on a large scale. Many of them targeting Europe. Therefore, Israel helped in that area. However we need to make sure that we prevent two things. Firstly to make sure that ISIS does not create new bases (headquarters – n.r.). Israel decisively contributed to preventing the creation of new ISIS bases in the Middle East! Secondly, Iran replaces ISIS. Iran is more dangerous than ISIS and we need to stop this.
Reporter: Recently in your press statement with the vice president Mike Pence you have declared that Iran is - metaphorically - ”poisoning the Middle East”. What are the poison and the mechanism?
Benjamin Netanyahu: Tyranny, aggression, theocracy, terror... This is the mechanism. Practically, the devour countries by sending several terrorists everywhere in the Middle East and not only there. This is a matter that has to be stopped now. If I learned something from last century’s history is that when there are some extreme radical violent ideology you have to cut it at its roots, not to let it spread, because in the end, everybody pays the price.
Reporter: You are very active on social media. Is social media a ”magical solution” for politicians?
BenjaminNetanyahu: For those who have favorable press coverage, it is not necessary. I do not have very positive press coverage in Israel, so it is necessary for me. Yet I like it. Do you know why? Because it offers me the opportunity to get in touch not only with Israeli audience, that I really cherish, but also with people in the whole world, from Europe, India, Latin and North America. It is a possibility to have a direct conversation with people. Not only that you can talk directly to them, but also they can reply, to tell you what they do not like. I am happy to say that most things that I posted on social media had positive feedback. Do you know with whom I talk as well? With people from Iran. I talk directly to them. We do not have a problem with people from Iran. We do have a problem with the regime there, that taunts these people. I was surprised during the recent protests in Iran that the messages I sent to Iranians on social media were received with enthusiasm and often with courage. People commented using their real names. So through social media and these clips that I posted I could see that something in Iran is happening. Beyond some less positive aspects of social media, there are major advantages and the freedom of expressing oneself online should be kept.
Reporter: What would you like to tell the Romanian people?
Benjamin Netanyahu: In Israel, Romanians are loved. We are looking forward to welcoming Romanian tourists. The Jewish population in Romania have a huge history. Romania was the only country that, during the Cold War, kept their relationships with Israel. There are hundreds of thousands of Israeli with Romanian ancestry. They are like a human bridge between the two countries. Israeli come to Romania and I hope that many Romanians will visit Israel. There is a natural friendship and sympathy between our countries. We can do many things together.>
NOTE: The interview took place with the great help of PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s official doctor, who has Romanian origins.