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Netanyahu slams 'Israel is apartheid' claim as 'hogwash'

In NBC interview, the prime minister responds to recent US charges against Israel's policies toward Palestinians

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu in an interview with NBC News correspondent Rafael Sanchez (Photo: Screenshot)

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu slammed allegations that Israel is an apartheid state in an interview with NBC News correspondent Rafael Sanchez.

During the interview released on Tuesday, Sanchez demanded to know how Netanyahu would respond to the apartheid allegations made by some human rights organizations in Israel and abroad, as well as by some of the anti-Israel United States Congress members who recently boycotted Israeli President Isaac Herzog's speech to a joint session of Congress.

"I think it's hogwash," Netanyahu replied and then condemned what he believes is the real intention behind the apartheid claim against Israel.

"I mean the whole idea of it is...ethnic cleansing is what they're talking about. We should get rid of the Jews because otherwise, we can't have peace, we have to uproot Jews.," Netanyahu said during the interview.

"That's like saying to me that the million and more Israeli Arabs, Israeli citizens who are Arabs, should be kicked out because we can't have peace unless we have a cleansed state; no. We're gonna have to live together in creative arrangements," added the prime minister.

Netanyahu went on to explain why, in his opinion, the majority of the people in Israel don't want Israel to leave the West Bank, also known as Judea and Samaria.

"The important thing to understand is... why do the vast majority of Israelis... do not want Israel to simply walk out...? Because we've tried it."

He pointed to the steadily growing presence of Hezbollah, the Iranian terrorist proxy group, in southern Lebanon. Hezbollah has kept a presence in Lebanon ever since Israel's unilateral withdrawal in 2000.

Hamas, another Iranian-backed proxy organization, took over Gaza a year after Israel pulled out, Netanyahu added.

Both organizations have since fired thousands of rockets toward Israel.

When asked if Israel can maintain its support from the United States while a growing number of Democrats are seeing Israel's presence in the West Bank as apartheid, Netanyahu reiterated that Palestinians "can vote for their own parliament."

"They have their own flag, their own anthem, their own administration. The one thing they shouldn't have control over is control over security because security means that they'll fall prey to terrorism and we'll fall prey to Iran's terrorist proxies,” Netanyahu stated.

"I think that we have to recognize that any peace arrangement would have Israel responsible for security because this is a tiny area. Does that mean less than sovereign powers? Yes, it does mean that."

During the NBC interview, Netanyahu was also asked about the ongoing backlash resulting from the judicial reform. Sanchez mentioned President Herzog's warning about the danger of a civil war, before asking the prime minister: "Was it worth it?"

"There won't be a civil war, I can guarantee you that," Netanyahu said. "People will see that Israel is just as democratic as before and even more democratic."

When asked if he would abide by a High Court ruling to strike down the recent reform legislation that was voted into law last Monday, Netanyahu refused to give a straight answer.

"I think we have to follow two rules. One is: Israeli governments abide by the decisions of the Supreme Court, and at the same time the Supreme Court respects the Basic Laws, which are the closest thing we have to a constitution, I think we should keep both principles," he said in response.

Sanchez also asked: "When the president [Biden] suggests that you have brought extremists into the cabinet, is he wrong?"

"I think a lot of these statements have been walked [back]... since they're assuming responsibility, they're changing their tune, and more importantly, it's not what they say, it's what we do," Netanyahu said about National Security Minister Ben Gvir and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich.

"And what we do is to follow the responsible... policies that I put forward. For example, recently in our security cabinet, I passed a decision that we will work to prevent the collapse of the PA [Palestinian Authority]. That wasn't too popular on my right. So we had a vote. And 8 out of 10 voted for, one voted against and one abstained... it's the actions that count."

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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