In his address to the 2015 IDC Herzliya Conference, Prime Minister Netanyahu emphasized that a volatile Middle East presents surprising diplomatic opportunities for regional alliances. He added that he would support a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state.
The turmoil in the Middle East presents an opportunity for new regional alliances that can help bring about a two-state solution to the conflict with the Palestinians, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu explained on Tuesday in an hour-long address at the closing of the 2015 IDC Herzliya Conference.
“I committed to two states at Bar Ilan,” Netanyahu said, referring to his historical 2009 address. “The solution as I see it is a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes Israel as a Jewish state.”
“The Palestinians expect us to recognize a Palestinian state. But they won’t recognize a Jewish state for the Jewish people. That’s what we want. Mutual recognition,” he stated, adding that he has been trying to engage Palestinian Authority (PA) Mahmoud Abbas in negotiations for the past six and a half years, but to no avail.
Netanyahu said the crisis engulfing much of the Arab world presents an opportunity for Israel to form new alliances. “The trepidation of the Sunni states from Iran on the one hand, and ISIS [the Islamic State terror organization] on the other, creates potential for cooperation,” he said.
“Perhaps it could help resolve the problem we want to resolve with the Palestinians. Because I don’t want a one-state solution,” he stressed.
“Superpowers need alliances,” he continued. “A small state like Israel definitely needs alliances, definitely.”
He also discussed the danger of an Arab arms race in response to a nuclear Iran. Some states will seek nuclear weapons of their own, he said, while each of them will substantially increase their stocks of conventional weapons.
“It won’t make Israel safer,” he continued, regarding the emerging nuclear deal with Iran. He said he has spoken to Arab leaders, and “no one believes that this deal will block Iran’s path to the bomb, or many bombs.”
Netanyahu also noted that Iran has been involved in “cyber attacks on Saudi Arabia and even the United States.”
Israeli Gas Will Boost Economy
Turning to internal affairs, Netanyahu outlined an economic development program, with the goal of raising the Israeli growth rate to five percent.
The program is based on developing new markets – especially in China and India – developing new products in areas such as cyber security, improving telecommunications and transportation for greater connectivity online and between regions of Israel, and developing Israel’s natural energy resources.
“We have received a great gift from nature. The gas must be extracted from the sea and brought to the Israeli economy. Extracting the gas is of great diplomatic, security and economic significance and is very important for the future of the State of Israel. But natural gas will flow to the Israeli economy. It will lower electricity costs and create jobs.”
“There is no security without a strong economy,” he said, “and there is no prosperity without growth.”