(JNS.org) Despite losing some ground to the new HaBayit HaYehudi (Jewish Home) party and a resurgent Labor Party, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s combined Likud-Yisrael Beitneu ticket is expected to win the election, and he will remain as prime minister. In an interview on the eve of the general elections in Israel, Netanyahu made it clear that as Israel’s reelected leader, he would not uproot major Jewish communities just beyond the pre-1967 lines.
“I think that there is recognition that ultimately there has to be a real and fair solution, and that certainly doesn’t include driving out hundreds of thousands of Jews who live in the suburbs of Jerusalem, and in the suburbs of Tel Aviv, in the Ariel bloc,” Netanyahu said in an interview from his Jerusalem office, the Jerusalem Post reported.
Netanyahu reaffirmed that these communities would be part of Israel in any peace deal with the Palestinians. “There is a common acceptance that the so-called settlement blocs will remain part of Israel in any settlement,” Netanyahu said.
However, despite the focus on construction in these areas, Netanyahu told a group of visiting U.S. Senators on Sunday that the real problem is not Jews building houses, but Iran. "The problem in the Middle East is Iran's attempt to build nuclear weapons ... This was, and remains, the main mission facing not only myself and Israel, but the entire world,” Netanyahu said according to the Associated Press.
In the interview, Netanyahu also addressed concerns regarding a report by American columnist Jeffrey Goldberg in which President Obama is quoted as saying, “Israel doesn’t know what its own best interests are.” Netanyahu responded he is “confident that President Obama understands that only a sovereign Israeli government can determine what Israel’s interests are.”