Photo Credit: Avi Ohayon / GPO
Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, US President Donald Trump at White House joint briefing on Feb. 15 2017

I think, beyond that, President Trump has led a very important effort in the past few weeks, just coming into the presidency. He pointed out there are violations, Iranian violations on ballistic missile tests. By the way, these ballistic missiles are inscribed in Hebrew, “Israel must be destroyed.” The Palestinian — rather the Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif said, well, our ballistic missiles are not intended against any country. No. They write on the missile in Hebrew, “Israel must be destroyed.”

So challenging Iran on its violations of ballistic missiles, imposing sanctions on Hezbollah, preventing them, making them pay for the terrorism that they foment throughout the Middle East and beyond, well beyond — I think that’s a change that is clearly evident since President Trump took office. I welcome that. I think it’s — let me say this very openly: I think it’s long overdue, and I think that if we work together — and not just the United States and Israel, but so many others in the region who see eye to eye on the great magnitude and danger of the Iranian threat, then I think we can roll back Iran’s aggression and danger. And that’s something that is important for Israel, the Arab states, but I think it’s vitally important for America. These guys are developing ICBMs. They’re developing — they want to get to a nuclear arsenal, not a bomb, a hundred bombs. And they want to have the ability to launch them everywhere on Earth, and including, and especially, eventually, the United States.


So this is something that is important for all of us. I welcome the change, and I intend to work with President Trump very closely so that we can thwart this danger.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Great. Do you have somebody?


Q: Mr. President, since your election campaign and even after your victory, we’ve seen a sharp rise in anti-Semitic incidents across the United States. And I wonder what you say to those among the Jewish community in the States, and in Israel, and maybe around the world who believe and feel that your administration is playing with xenophobia and maybe racist tones.

And, Mr. Prime Minister, do you agree to what the President just said about the need for Israel to restrain or to stop settlement activity in the West Bank? And a quick follow-up on my friend’s questions — simple question: Do you back off from your vision to the end of the conflict of two-state solution as you laid out in Bar-Ilan speech, or you still support it? Thank you.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, I just want to say that we are very honored by the victory that we had — 306 Electoral College votes. We were not supposed to crack 220. You know that, right? There was no way to 221, but then they said there’s no way to 270. And there’s tremendous enthusiasm out there.

I will say that we are going to have peace in this country. We are going to stop crime in this country. We are going to do everything within our power to stop long-simmering racism and every other thing that’s going on, because lot of bad things have been taking place over a long period of time.

I think one of the reasons I won the election is we have a very, very divided nation. Very divided. And, hopefully, I’ll be able to do something about that. And, you know, it was something that was very important to me.

As far as people — Jewish people — so many friends, a daughter who happens to be here right now, a son-in-law, and three beautiful grandchildren. I think that you’re going to see a lot different United States of America over the next three, four, or eight years. I think a lot of good things are happening, and you’re going to see a lot of love. You’re going to see a lot of love. Okay? Thank you.

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: I believe that the issue of the settlements is not the core of the conflict, nor does it really drive the conflict. I think it’s an issue, it has to be resolved in the context of peace negotiations. And I think we also are going to speak about it, President Trump and I, so we can arrive at an understanding so we don’t keep on bumping into each other all the time on this issue. And we’re going to discuss this.

On the question you said, you just came back with your question to the problem that I said. It’s the label. What does Abu Mazen mean by two states, okay? What does he mean? A state that doesn’t recognize the Jewish state? A state that basically is open for attack against Israel? What are we talking about? Are we talking about Costa Rica, or are we talking about another Iran?

So obviously it means different things. I told you what are the conditions that I believe are necessary for an agreement: It’s the recognition of the Jewish state and it’s Israel’s — Israel’s — security control of the entire area. Otherwise we’re just fantasizing. Otherwise we’ll get another failed state, another terrorist Islamist dictatorship that will not work for peace but work to destroy us but also destroy any hope — any hope — for a peaceful future for our people.

So I’ve been very clear about those conditions, and they haven’t changed. I haven’t changed. If you read what I said eight years ago, it’s exactly that. And I repeated that again, and again, and again. If you want to deal with labels, deal with labels. I’ll deal with substance.

And finally, if I can respond to something that I know from personal experience. I’ve known President Trump for many years, and to allude to him, or to his people — his team, some of whom I’ve known for many years, too. Can I reveal, Jared, how long we’ve known you? (Laughter.) Well, he was never small. He was always big. He was always tall.

But I’ve known the President and I’ve known his family and his team for a long time, and there is no greater supporter of the Jewish people and the Jewish state than President Donald Trump. I think we should put that to rest.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thank you very much. Very nice. I appreciate that very much.


12:42 P.M. EST

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.