Netanyahu and Stephanopoulos, the parsing


 Benjamin Netanyahu, currently Israel’s prime minister, is also a trained and effective diplomat.

He says what he wants and he know how to say nothing when the occasion demands it. Which is why, I think, not much has been made, newswise, of his lengthy interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos.

Some outlets have headlined his call  for crippling sanctions on Iran, others have highlighted his refusal to stop building in Jerusalem — not a lot new here.

Give Stephanopoulos his due though — I just scoured the transcript and I think I found a couple of offguard nuggets:

About the Palestinian Authority:

I think if  they’re not asked to put aside all preconditions and negotiate, they’re not gonna do it. And I’m — we’ve been talking to the United States. We’ve been talking — I’ve been talking to the President. We’ve been talking through diplomatic channels. I hope that we can get this together.

It seems to me that here, Netanyahu’s frustration is less with the P.A., of whom he expects little, and more with the Obama administration, for not putting the screws to Abbas and Fayyad.

True, I’m drawing a line here from "If they’re not asked" to "I’ve been talking to the president" but it’s not exactly a tortured line.

Then there’s his emphatic rejection of any suggestion that Israel sign the nuclear non-proliferation treaty:

Well, we have a long standing policy and we’re not about to change it. But let me tell you this. People sign the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, the NPT. That doesn’t guarantee anything. You know who signed it? Iraq under Saddam Hussein when they build the Osirack nuclear reactor. They violated it … Even though they were signatories.


And Iran itself, that is violating left and right the NPT … even taking people into guided tours of the centrifuge holes, it’s a signatory to the NPT. So that doesn’t really help you. You know, if the world changes, if the, you know, if the Middle East one day advances to a messianic age where the lion lie down with the lambs, then you can ask me this question again, George.

Not that this is new — except for Netanyahu’s emphatic-ness. Obama reiterated U.S. policy last week that everyone, including Israel, should sign on, which is also not new — but I’m wondering if Netanyahu was unsettled, perhaps by the context: Obama has made reducing nuclear warheads a centerpiece of his foreign policy.

And Israel reportedly possesses a couple of hundred.

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