Netanyahu: ‘Don’t worry about Americans, we easily manoeuvre them’

In 2001 Israel Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, was caught on camera saying: ‘Don’t worry about the Americans, we easily manoeuvre them’ – ‘This is how I deliberately sabotaged the Oslo Accords’ – ‘We plan to strike Palestinians several times, so hard the pain will be unbearable’.

Transcript of video:

Netanyahu: Today everyone understands the slogan ‘The Settlements are here’. They are everywhere. What’s the difference? What do you think [Palestinian leader Yassir] Arafat wants? He wants one big settlement that is called Tel Aviv. As far as they are concerned, I think, the territorial waters are also theirs [Palestinians’]. That they want us to be pushed into the sea is obvious, but only further away…

The main thing is, first of all, to strike them, not once but several times, so painfully that the price they pay will be unbearable. So far, the price-tag is not unbearable. [I mean] a large-scale attack on the Palestinian Authority, causing them to fear that everything is about to collapse. Fear is what brings them to…

Host: Hold on, then ‘the world’ will again say that we’re aggressors.

Netanyahu: They can say whatever they want.

Host: Aren’t you afraid of what they’ll say?

Netanyahu: No.

Host: Especially today with the U.S. I know how they are…

Netanyahu: America is something that you can easily maneuver and move in the right direction. And even if they do say something, so then they say something… so what? 80% of Americans support us! It’s absurd! We have such support there, and here we’re thinking ‘what should we do if?’…

Look, I wasn’t afraid to maneuver [the Clinton Administration]. I wasn’t afraid to confront Clinton. I wasn’t afraid to go against the U.N. What happened with the Oslo Accords? The Accords, which were ratified by Parliament. I was asked before the [1996] elections: “Will you fulfil them?”

I said: “Yes, subject to reciprocity, and minimizing pull-outs.” But how can one minimize the [obliged] pull-outs? I gave my own interpretation to the agreements, in such a way that will allow me to stop the race back to the 1967 borders.

Host: How did we manage to do this?

Netanyahu: Nobody defined what “Military Facilities” are. So I also defined them as being ‘security zones’. The entire Jordan Valley, for me, is a “military facility”. Nobody has…

Host: Yes. Like the Beit She’an valley.

Netanyahu: You see, go figure. But then there was the question of who will define these “military facilities”? I received a letter from [Secretary of State, Warren] Christopher, sent to me and to Arafat at the same time, saying that Israel and Israel alone will define the “military facilities”, their locations, and size.

Now, they didn’t want to give this letter so I refused to sign the Hebron Accords [of 1997]. I stopped the government meeting and I said: “I won’t sign.” And only when the letter arrived, during that meeting, to me and to Arafat, did I sign the Hebron Accords. Or ratified it, to be exact – it was already signed.

Why is this important? Because at that very moment, in fact, I halted the fulfilment of the Oslo Agreements.

It’s better to give 2% than 100%. This is the choice we’re facing. “You gave 2%, but you stopped the withdrawal, rather than 100%.” The wisdom is not to be there and break, but rather to be there and pay the minimum.