Israeli PM Netanyahu Addresses Iranian Nuclear Threat and Jerusalem at Davos World Economic Forum (Video with Transcript))

Video published on Jan 25, 2018 on the IsraeliPM YouTube channel

ראש הממשלה בנימין נתניהו בשיחה עם פאריד זאקריה מ-CNN בפורום הכלכלי העולמי בדאבוס.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu talks to CNN's Fareed Zakaria at the World Economic Forum in Davos

“Israel has been the leading force in protecting the lives and critical facilities in many, many states.” – PM Netanyahu on Israeli intelligence and techonologies for protecting our airways.

Transcript of the above video from

Fareed Zakaria: 
It's good to have you.

PM Netanyahu:
It's good to be with you again.

I think we do this once every two years or so.

 Fareed Zakaria:
We're trying to do it more often, if you'll allow us.

Right now, you just met with President Trump. The president said something quite dramatic recently, that he was not going to renew the waiver of sanctions on Iran. Which means that at some point, it is quite possible that the United States will unilaterally withdraw from the Iran deal. Then, Iran would have the option, presumably, of beginning to enrich uranium again, go down a path, a nuclear path again.

Isn't that a bad outcome for Israel?

PM Netanyahu: 
No. I think that the present deal is so deeply flawed, that it guarantees that Iran will have what it needs to make nuclear weapons, including enrichment of fissile material on a vast scale.

This is what is problematic with the deal. It just gives them a timeline, and it says, within X years, eight years, whatever…

Fareed Zakaria: 
But wouldn't it be better for you for it to be 15 years from now, than next month?

PM Netanyahu:
No. Because what they can do today is at best enrich uranium for one weapon. Under the deal, they'll be able to enrich uranium for 100, 200 bombs, and that's…

Fareed Zakaria:
Fifteen years from now.

PM Netanyahu: 
Maybe eight or ten. And they could break out, that's rush to create a nuclear— an arsenal of nuclear weapons, unimpeded by any international agreement. In fact, the agreement lets them do it.

So this is why the deal is so bad, because it gives Iran, the preeminent terror state of our time, the wherewithal to produce nuclear weapons, nuclear bombs. They could give it to proxies, terrorist, they could use it themselves. That's where we don't want to get to.

So, I don't personally care if they fix the deal or if they cancel the deal, keep it or nix it. The important thing for me is to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear arsenal, because Iran not only spreads terror worldwide. Iran openly says that it's going to use those weapons, and use every weapon they have to annihilate Israel.

We're not going to let that happen.

Fareed Zakaria: 
When you talk to European leaders, at least certainly when I've talked to European leaders and certainly in their public statements, they say they support the deal. They do not see any reason to amend it. They believe Iran is in compliance with the deal and they think it produces stability.

So, when you talk to them and say, fix the deal, do they tell you, yes, we're going to fix the deal? Or do they say what they're saying publically, which is the deal is good, there's no reason— there's nothing— no fixing needs to be done?

PM Netanyahu:
Well, I'll tell you what I tell them. You know…

Fareed Zakaria:
What I'm hoping is that you'll tell me what they tell you privately.

PM Netanyahu: 
Well, I'm sure you do.

But, I can say that the fact that they signed a bad deal doesn't mean they have to keep a bad deal.

In history you've had instances of nations signing very bad deals and living, if they managed to live, to regret it.

There was such a deal, by the way, most recently, with North Korea. They had a deal. Everybody said, that's it, you know, the North Koreans will keep the deal and it will prevent North Korea from having nuclear weapons, they'll join the community of nations.

So much for that

So, they signed a deal

Fareed Zakaria: 
Wouldn't we wish for a deal, given that there are inspectors in Iran, given that it's much more difficult to break—

Are you comfortable with an Iran where there's no deal and it can do whatever it wants tomorrow?

PM Netanyahu:
I don't think it can do everything.

First of all, the inspections are deeply flawed. Because Iran says, you cannot inspect military sites. So if you're the Iranian regime, where do you think you're going to do your weaponization? Where do you think you're going to do the other elements of a secret nuclear program? In military sites. But they say you can't inspect it.

This is one example of how flawed this deal is.

Secondly, look, Iran doesn't rush forward to make nuclear weapons because they can suffer crippling sanctions. That brought them to their senses last time, a number of times. Second, they also might think, correctly, that if they try to rush for a bomb, there will be countries that would prevent them.

I don't want to speak in the name of another country, but I guarantee you I speak in my name, we will not let them acquire a nuclear weapon.

Fareed Zakaria:
When you look at the Middle East—you and I have talked about this before—it seems as though

PM Netanyahu: 
And by the way, the Arab states—again, unnamed—the Arab state, unnamed, agree with me.

Fareed Zakaria: 
So we are just about to name them.

It seems as though

PM Netanyahu:
You want to name the unnamed states. Go ahead, name the unnamed states.

Fareed Zakaria:
It seems as though Israel is today in a closer strategic alliance with Saudi Arabia and Egypt than at any point in its history, and that at this point this is the defining feature of the Middle East, a kind of anti-Iran alliance in which Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Israel are the crucial players.

Would you agree?

PM Netanyahu: 
I'd agree that there is an alignment of Israel and other countries in the Middle East that would have been unimaginable 10 years ago. Certainly in my life time, I never saw anything like it and I'm at the age of the State of Israel more or less, so it's an extraordinary thing.

Yes, it starts with a common concern with a common enemy, which is radical Islam, either of the radical Sunnis, Daesh, before that al-Qaeda, which Israel fights and has prevented, by the way dozens of terrorist, major terrorist attacks not only in the Middle East but throughout the world, and saved the lives of many, many citizens, because our intel is second to none. And also our common stance against Iran.

That's one source. What is not recognized is that there is another source of this closeness and it's their desire to make use of the civilian technology that Israel has in water or in agriculture or in IT and other areas to better the lives— health, better the lives of their citizens.

I view that as a great promise for peace. I think it's changing attitudes not only on the level of the regimes. We poll the Arab world. We see the beginning of change, significant change in the attitude toward Israel in the Arab publics. Not all of them, and not yet majorities, but significant minorities.

That's hope. That's a future of peace. It could affect the Palestinians too.

Fareed Zakaria: 
So, let me ask you about that, and I'll get to it in a second, but first, I have to ask the newsy question which is, President Trump did something I'm sure you have wanted him to do for a long time. President Trump did something that I'm sure you've wanted an American president to do for a long time, which is announce that the United States will move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The UN then voted overwhelmingly to condemn the United States for this, and the Arab leaders whom I've talked to, who are not, who are, you know, not unsympathetic to Israel at this point say, look, the reason we are opposed is this should be a part of a final deal. The status of Jerusalem should not be decided arbitrarily and unilaterally. We want this solved but in a way that helps produce, you know, some kind of a permanent settlement.

Do you understand that point that people make?

PM Netanyahu:
I understand that they say it. It think they're wrong. Let me tell you why.

You visited Jerusalem. Did you visit my office?

Fareed Zakaria:
No, I have not.

PM Netanyahu: 
Well you should. Next time.

Where's my office, the Prime Minister's Office? In Jerusalem. Right next to this is the Knesset, our parliament. Where's that? In Jerusalem. Right next to that is the Supreme Court, the only real independent supreme court in a very large radius in our turbulent region. Where's that? In Jerusalem.

The seat of government is in Jerusalem. This has been the case for the 70 years of Israel's existence that we're celebrating now.

Jerusalem has been the capital of the Jewish people since the time of King David, that's only 3,000 years ago.

So, President Trump made history by recognizing history, recognizing these indelible facts of the past and the present.

And under any peace agreement, you know that the capital of Israel will continue to be Jerusalem, and the seat of our government will continue to be in Jerusalem.

So I think on the contrary. He did a great service for peace, because peace can only be based on truth, on reality, and denying the simple fact that Israel's capital is Jerusalem is— pushes peace backward by creating an illusion, a fantasy. You can't build peace on fantasy. You can have a vision, but it has to be grounded in reality.

Fareed Zakaria: 
But you talked about history. But isn't there a history of Arabs living in East Jerusalem? And of Arab claims on East Jerusalem, and therefore their hope is, their aspiration is that they will be able to have some kind of capital in East Jerusalem.

Are you ruling that out completely?

PM Netanyahu:
Well, our position is that Jerusalem should be united, remain united under Israeli sovereignty with complete freedom for everyone to practice their faith as they choose.

I'm a Jew, you're a Muslim, there are Christians in the audience. And the only time that Christians, Muslims and Jews could practice their faith in an unfettered way, could have full and free access to the holy sites, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the Western Wall, a barricade of Herod's temple, the Jewish Temple of 2,000 years ago—the only time that all three faiths could practice their faith freely has been under Israel's sovereignty over Jerusalem.

And I have to say that if that were changed, you could actually descend into the sectorial violence that characterizes other places in the Middle East, where mosques are blown up, churches are blown up, synagogues aren't being blown up, because there aren't any left.

But we don't want that to happen. We're keeping the holy sites, and the status quo, I want to stress that. Under any arrangement that we'll have, we will always keep the status quo of the Temple Mount and of the holy sites of all major faiths. We'll take care of that as a point of policy and principle.

Fareed Zakaria:
So a number of Palestinians have reacted to the Trump's Administration's position by saying it appears that Benjamin Netanyahu is essentially signaling the end of the two-state solution. We should now move to a one-state solution. What we now ask for, since we will never have our own state with our own capital, what we ask for is political rights, since we live under Israeli sovereignty.

Saeb Erekat said that, Hanan Ashrawi said that.

Is that a possible consequence of this? That the Palestinians will move to asking for a one-state solution?

PM Netanyahu: 
I think it's a complete distortion. I don't think they really mean it. I think they want to govern themselves, which is— I don't have any problem with that. I want the—

Take away labeling, you know. Two states, this state, is it a state plus, a state minus. Take that away and I'll tell you what my position is. It's a simple one. I haven't changed it, by the way. I've said it from the day I gave the Bar Ilan Speech. The principles have always been the same.

The Palestinians should have all the powers to govern themselves, but none of the powers to threaten us. Which means that in any political arrangement, Israel must retain the overriding security control in the tiny area west of the Jorden, from the Jordan to the Mediterranean. Because otherwise, otherwise you'll have Daesh, ISIS come in, or Hamas come in, which means Iran. And that's the end of peace, that's the end of the Palestinian Authority, it's the end off— could be a perceptible, a powerful threat to the survival of Israel.

So I never make, mince words about that. Israel will retain the overriding security control. But other than that, the Palestinians will be free to govern themselves. And I don't think there's any problem with that.

People say, yeah, but you know, if they don't have control over the military and security things, that's not real sovereignty, you can't have another country, you know, have, retain its military forces, you know, a former enemy. How could that happen?

Well, how about American forces in Germany, you know, almost 80 years after the fact or in—

Fareed Zakaria: 

PM Netanyahu:
Japan, and so on. Or for that matter, you know, you host an economic conference. Some of the countries that are invited to speak here, their leaders can tell you that there are other countries who have some influence, and some even some degrees of control over their economies.

You don't say that those countries, which will go unnamed, are not free, that their not sovereign.

So we live in a complex world. We have a mosaic of failed states in the Middle East. We don't want to create another failed state. And the key fundament of stability and of success and of peace is security.

Israel will maintain that security for our benefit, but also for the benefit of the Palestinians.

Fareed Zakaria:
But you know, there are a number of people who say, the problem with no progress on this issue is that over time, you will have a vast number of Palestinians who live under Israeli sovereignty, and that in that circumstance, Israel will not be able to be Jewish and democratic. That either, in other words, either it will lose its democratic character because it will be ruling over a large group of people without giving them rights, or it will lose its Jewish character, because the number of Palestinians will overwhelm the number of Israeli Jews.

Do you buy, do you buy that trade off?

PM Netanyahu: 
I think there's a third option. I don't think we necessarily— I don't want to annex the Palestinians as citizens of Israel, and I don't want to have them as our subjects. They can live in their own sphere, govern themselves, with their own powers, their own parliament, their own flag, embassies, what have you, the whole trappings, except the powers that are needed, that we need to retain in order to protect ourselves.

And this is not a gimmick, it's not a spin. It's real. This is the kind of arrangement that we have to strike—

Fareed Zakaria: 
But what country has ever done that?

You talk about Germany and Japan. Germany and Japan have control over their military. They're not— I mean you're not— If you were to give the Palestinians the deal the Germans got after World War II, the Palestinians would be happy. I mean that's—

PM Netanyahu:
No, actually they say, we don't want any residual forces and residual military presence beyond, I don't know, two, three years.

It's now going on 80 years that the Americans are there.

Fareed Zakaria:
But Germany has full sovereignty as in in military and defence issues.

PM Netanyahu: 
Well, I think that well the Palestinians demonstrate that they can, you know, they can actually govern those territories, and not have them taken over by Hamas or by ISIS, then come and ask me again.

But here's what happened. We left Gaza, okay? We went by the book. You know, what the international community often says: go to the '67 lines, take away all the settlements, give the keys over to the Palestinians. We did that in Gaza. What happened? Within about five minutes the Palestinian Authority was kicked out, Hamas came in, which means Iran came in. They fired thousands of rockets from little Gaza right into Tel Aviv and to every part of Israel and the last thing we had was peace.

Because we didn't retain security control. And we don't want to repeat that.

By the way the same thing happened when we left Lebanon. Exactly the same thing. So we don't want to repeat this a third time, and I'm proposing a different model. I'm saying, let them govern themselves, but let us be responsible for the things that determine our future and our survival and theirs, namely— and the first power is security. That's the most important power.

It's a new model, you have to get used to it. And it's the right one. It's a realistic model for an enduring peace.

Fareed Zakaria: 
You preside over an Israel that is more powerful than it has ever been. I remember when I was in graduate school, we'd look at the balance of power in the Middle East and the Israelis worried about the great Syrian army and the great Iraqi army and the great Egyptian army. Well those countries are in chaos, their armies are in shambles.

Israel is a regional superpower; you're an economic superpower, particularly in technology. You are politically more dominant than any figure in Israel in recent memory.

Isn't this the time for you to take some kind of bold risk to solve this problem, the Palestinian problem, once and for all?

PM Netanyahu:
Yeah. The answer is yes.

I've invited Abbas hundreds of times and I ask him, why don't you come over, even come to the Knesset, I'll go to Ramallah. It will be a nightmare, again, for my security services, I often say that, but we'll manage. I'm still ready to do it, right now.

And you can invite him over and ask him, why don't you come to Jerusalem, why don't you invite Netanyahu to Ramallah? You know, they always find a way to—

Fareed Zakaria:
But make a new proposal, make something that, you know—

PM Netanyahu: 
I'll do that, but not in Davos, you know.

Fareed Zakaria: 
Okay. I'll— we'll do the show in Jerusalem and you can do it on the show then.

PM Netanyahu:

No, it's not the location of the interview that counts, as you know.

But, you know, if you want to have peace, you have to negotiate peace. You can't negotiate peace if they refuse to negotiate. And it's a fact that comes out that Abbas simply doesn't want to negotiate. He runs away. Every time somebody comes up, or comes close to a plan, you know, the Palestinians run away. They did that with, at Camp David, with Clinton, President Clinton in 2000. They did it again, you know, with Olmert. They did it again when Obama wanted to present some guidelines. And they walked away.

And they always got away with getting, walking away. They got away with it, because they're basically pampered by the international community.

And here, I think President Trump offers a refreshing point of view. He said, we're not going to let you just walk away and we're going to continue to pamper you or give you money or whatever. We want to see you enter the room and negotiate peace.

That is not only the American position, that is my position too. And all they have to do is test it.

Fareed Zakaria:
Is Jared Kushner going to make peace in the Middle East? President Trump says that he has a chance of doing it.

PM Netanyahu: 
Look, it's a very able team, that the president has. They have many, many abilities. The thing the people don't realize is that these people have made their mark in the markets, in real estate. Now, this is not only a real estate deal, it's fundamentally not a real estate deal but a problem recognizing Israel's existence, the problem of not recognizing a Jewish state in any boundary. But it also has its real estate elements and they're, I have to say, very creative.

I wait to see what they'll put down. But I don't rule it out. Because I think we need peace. I think the Palestinians need peace. I think we want to end this conflict. I know what it could do to the neighborhood. I mean it's already happening with the Arab states before we have peace with the Palestinians. But I know what it could do to the Palestinians, what it could do for us, but they have to get on with it. They have to, you know, stop kvetching, you know. Let's get on with it. Sit down, enter the room, start negotiating.

And let's see what Jared Kushner and President Trump come up with. How can we rule it out before we've seen it?

Fareed Zakaria: 
But they argue that President Trump, the Palestinians, that President Trump's moves that you lauded as creative, have made it so plain that the United States is now no longer viewed by the Palestinians as an honest broker. Is that— Doesn't that make it harder to arrive at some peace?

Doesn't Israel benefit from the United States being seen by both parties as an honest broker?

PM Netanyahu:
Look, I think there's no substitute for the United States as the honest broker, as a facilitator. There's no other international body that would do it. It's a fantasy to think that we could get somebody else, with all due respect to other parties, it's just not going to happen.

So if you want to enjoy the services of the great power, they can also summon economic resources and political support, I think it's great for a potential peace deal. There's no one else other than the United States, and I say this, I never said it differently. You know, I've had my ups and downs with American administrations. I never said, well, I'm not going to talk with this or that administration because, you know, they're more favourable to the Palestinians than for Israel. You never heard me say that. And I seriously engaged with the administrations that, you know, that were— in all the years that I— I'm getting there, you know, this is like my 11th year as a—12th year as prime minister, so I went through a couple of— actually three administrations, okay? And I never said, well this one I'll take and this one I won't take. And I don't think they should say it either.

You want peace? Get your act together. See what the United States offer is and get in a room and negotiate.

Fareed Zakaria:
Mr. Prime Minister, you will understand I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't ask this question. It's about your own political future. You face in Israel serious investigations. You have your chief of staff who has agreed to testify or to work with authorities against, at least, in cooperation on an inquiry.

 How should the world see this? Should the world look at this and say this is Israeli democracy at work, where no one is above the law, above scrutiny, above investigation? Or do you regard this as a political witch-hunt.

PM Netanyahu: 
Well, no one is above the law in Israel and that's the case in this case too, but I'm also confident that nothing will come of it because there's nothing to come out. So, I think that it's just a question of time, and next year, yeah, invite me next year, we'll do it once a year, and you'll see if I'm proven right. You'll see that I am.

Fareed Zakaria: 
Finally, you just came back from a trip to India.

Tell us what is it that all these countries that you have now been going to, that are deepening their ties with Israel, what is it that they are trying to get from Israel?

PM Netanyahu:
Two things.

They want security, protection against terrorism, and Israel is second to none in providing this valuable intelligence that has also prevented for example planes from being blown our it the sky. That's not only a problem for the country that suffers that tragedy, but for all international civil aviation.

Israel has been the leading force to protect the lives and the critical facilities of many, many states. That's the first thing. Everybody wants that, because the firmaments of— the sparks of radical Islam are flying into every continent and into every country.

The second thing that they want is the future. It's not only to push back the bad, it's to seize the good. We are in a world of tremendous change. I mean, you've been talking about it. It's basically the confluence of big data, artificial intelligence and connectivity. It's changing industries. Israel has a car industry within a matter of years. We make— 85% of the value of a car is soon going to be software, and all the other stuff, you know, the body, the chassis, the tyres, the engine, that's miniscule. So essentially cars are computers on wheels. Now we have a car industry because there we compete.

So an Israeli company, right next to my office in Jerusalem, has just been sold to Intel for 15 billion dollars, for autonomous vehicle technology. But the more important thing about this company is it was given by intel the keys to 30 of its worldwide businesses in autonomous vehicles. You use Waze navigation systems? That's an Israeli company that was sold— I have to compliment Google, I think I'm going to see Eric Schmidt tonight— they bought it for nothing, for a billion dollars. It's probably worth 15, 20 times that, okay? Today. This technology—

Fareed Zakaria:
done the deal?

PM Netanyahu: 
Yeah. Probably. But this technology is produced in Israel. But Israel's also not only an IT power, it's a water power.

Fareed Zakaria:

PM Netanyahu: 
Not only that. We recycle almost 90% of our waste water. The runner up is Spain with about 20%, just to understand. So if you're a country that needs water, and you can recycle your wastewater, you come to Israel. If you want to have precision, precision agriculture. You know what that means? It means we put drones in the sky, sensors in the fields, big data, and then drip irrigation, or drip fertilization, both, and we water the individual plants. No average costing, no loss of, you know, no loss of resources. This is extraordinarily productive.

So you asked me about India. I just went there. Before that I went to Africa, there times in 18 months. Because when you go to Africa and you talk to an African mother who has to go four hours one day, in a day, every day, to get water for her children, and then four hours back carrying this water, okay? And now an Israeli company comes there, and a young entrepreneur, a young woman says here's water to you, Madam. It's made out of thin air, thin air. This is the technology of producing water from air. Changed her life. Okay?

I go to India and we went to Gujarat, and there's an Israeli Center of Excellence in agriculture there, and Israeli technologists are teaching Indian farmers techniques and the use of new crops, okay? And one Indian farmer says, well, I increased my income four times, and the other one, five times. The same thing I hear from four, five, six farmers. And you understand what this can do for India, a country that over about 60% of the population is farmers.

So this is, this is a revolution. Israel, you know— we are working to build up the life of the Jewish state and afford us a future of prosperity and progress and peace. But one our great principles in our tradition is that Israel should be a light unto the nations. And when we can offer security and food and cleaner water and cleaner air, anything from cherry tomatoes to cyber security, you know, that's— it's something of deep pride, and it gives me hope that we can, we can not only help the people around the world, but also help people in our corner of the world. And I'm confident that we're on the path to do it.

There will be problems. There will be a lot of interviews and a lot of questions. But ultimately I think that's where we're going. It's a great time for the State of Israel.

And I hear all the leaders who come here, they say, come and invest in my country, come and invest in my country. Well, first of all I want to thank all of you here and many who are listening to me now, thank you for having come to invest in Israel, but invest more. It's good for you. It's good for the world.

Fareed Zakaria:
Mr. Prime Minister, a pleasure to have you on.

PM Netanyahu: 
Thank you.

Also watch PM Netanyahu's 2014 speech – focusing on INNOVATION and World Issues related to technology:

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