The United States and Israel have made a huge effort this month to patch up the sometimes difficult relationship between President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. But a newly released video of Netanyahu, speaking in an unvarnished manner in 2001 about relations with the United States and the peace process, may cause some heartburn at the White House.
“I know what America is,” Netanyahu told a group of terror victims, apparently not knowing his words were being recorded. “America is a thing you can move very easily, move it in the right direction. They won’t get in their way.”
Netanyahu also bragged how he undercut the peace process when he was prime minister during the Clinton administration. “They asked me before the election if I’d honor [the Oslo accords],” he said. “I said I would, but … I’m going to interpret the accords in such a way that would allow me to put an end to this galloping forward to the ’67 borders. How did we do it? Nobody said what defined military zones were. Defined military zones are security zones; as far as I’m concerned, the entire Jordan Valley is a defined military zone. Go argue.”
Gideon Levy, a left-leaning columnist for Haaretz newspaper, declared: “This video should have been banned for broadcast to minors. This video should have been shown in every home in Israel, then sent to Washington and Ramallah. Banned for viewing by children so as not to corrupt them, and distributed around the country and the world so that everyone will know who leads the government of Israel.”
Of course, the video is from nearly ten years ago. Opinions change, based on circumstances and experience. But who knows what leaders are really saying when they think the cameras aren’t filming?