Benjamin Netanyahu: I’m not a racist – POLITICO
In his first interview since Tuesday’s election, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that his speech before both houses of Congress was not an “attempt at partisanship” and denied accusations of racism.
“By coming to the United States, I didn’t mean any disrespect or any attempt at partisanship. I was merely speaking of something that I view could endanger the survival of Israel, and I felt that it was my obligation to speak up there,” Netanyahu told NBC News’ Andrea Mitchell on Thursday.
Netanyahu made a dramatic comeback this week after trailing in preelection polls and is likely to form a new government of right-leaning political parties.
Netanyahu said Secretary of State John Kerry had called him on Wednesday, and he is “sure [he’ll] be speaking to President [Barack] Obama soon.” The White House has yet to congratulate Netanyahu on his all-but-certain victory.
“We’ll work together; we have to,” Netanyahu said of Obama. “We have our differences on Iran … but there are so many areas that we have to — we must — work together.”
Netanyahu said during his campaign that there will be no Palestinian state as long as he is prime minister, provoking the ire of the Obama administration, which hopes for a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians.
“We’ll work together with the United States and with the president because we have no other alternative; we’re allies,” Netanyahu said. “America has no greater ally than Israel, and Israel has no greater ally than the United States.”
On election day in Israel, Netanyahu raised eyebrows by warning voters that his government was “in danger” because “Arab voters are coming out in droves to the polls.”
When asked to respond to allegations that he is racist, Netanyahu said only, “I’m not.”
Mitchell’s interview with the Israeli prime minister aired on MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” and portions will air tonight on NBC’s “Nightly News.”
Appearing in another interview set to air tonight on Fox News’ “The Kelly File,” Netanyahu said he did not contradict himself this week by saying that there would be no Palestinian state if he were to be reelected.
“I didn’t retract any of the things I said in my speech six years ago, calling for a solution in which a demilitarized Palestinian state recognizes a Jewish state,” the prime minister told Megyn Kelly. “I said that the conditions for that, today, are not achievable for a simple reason: Abu Mazen, the leader of the Palestinians, rejects consistently the acceptance of a Jewish state.”