Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has softened statements he made before the election, saying he is not inherently opposed to a two-state solution and he was not trying to instigate anti-Arab sentiment when encouraging his supporters to go to the polls.
In an interview with NPR
, Netanyahu said he intended to convey that reaching a two-state solution would not be possible as things stand, but that his position has never changed on the issue.
"What I said was that under the present circumstances, I said today it's unachievable because I had laid out very clearly what my conditions were for a two-state solution in the 2009 speech I gave at Bar-Ilan University. And I haven't changed; I haven't retracted that speech, at all. I said that the implementation of that vision is not relevant right now," he said.
"I don't want a one-state solution. But I certainly don't want a zero-state solution, a no-state solution, where Israel's very existence would be jeopardized. And that's what the people of Israel overwhelmingly elected me to do."
Netanyahu was pressed about his statements encouraging voters to go to the polls because Arabs were voting in droves.
"I was talking about the mobilization of specific communities for a specific party. It's bizarre lines of Islamists and anti-Israel forces who are trying to topple my government. So I wasn't trying to block anyone from voting. I was trying to mobilize my own forces," he said.
He insisted that his comments did not reflect a suspicion of Arabs who reside in Israel.
"I have invested billions, billions, in my last two governments in trying to close the gaps, social gaps, infrastructure, education, in the Arab communities in Israel. I'm proud that I did that, I'm going to do that again, I'm committed to that. I'm the prime minister of all of Israel's citizens, Jews and Arabs, alike."
Netanyahu also said that during his tenure he had frozen the construction of settlements and that removing settlements would not be an obstacle for a peace deal.
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