Israel’s relations with Arab nations were “improving beyond imagination” and predicted that “this will ultimately help achieve peace with our Palestinians neighbors,” the country’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a major Jewish gathering in Jerusalem on Sunday.
Speaking before the American Jewish Committee Global Forum, Netanyahu said that times have never been better for Israel, economically or diplomatically.
Netanyahu also backed out of his prior commitment to create a single entrance for the gender-segregated and egalitarian prayer areas, which was to have served as a sign that the non-Orthodox movements enjoy equal status in Israel.
“Before anything else, Israel is the home of all Jews,” he told the delegates. “Every Jew should feel at home in Israel. This is our goal, this is our policy. The unity of our people transcends daily politics, even if it’s not always amenable to daily politics,” he said as quoted by Haaretz.
David Friedman, the U.S. ambassador to Israel, had been scheduled to address the event, but a representative of the AJC notified participants that he was unable to attend because he had been summoned to Washington.
Netanyahu told the audience that the reason Israelis and Palestinians had failed to reach a peace agreement thus far was only because the Palestinians refused to recognize the Jewish state. “And that’s the problem,” he said. “It’s never been about a Palestinian state.”
If the Palestinians were truly interested in peace, he said, “then recognize the Jewish state, for God’s sake – that will bring peace once and for all.”
Netanyahu addressed the dangers of a nuclear Iran, saying, “Iran has produced one good thing – it’s brought Israel and our neighbors closer together as never before.” He made no mention, however, of the ongoing clashes on Israel’s border with Gaza.