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Netanyahu on coalition partners: ‘They are joining me, I’m not joining them’

PM-designate says prospective Public Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir has “modified a lot of his views,” and that “with power comes responsibility...and I certainly will ensure that that will be the case.”

Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu with Shas Chairman Aryeh Deri, Religious Zionism Party head Bezalel Smotrich and other party leaders at the swearing-in of the 25th Knesset in Jerusalem, Nov. 15, 2022. Photo: Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90.
Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu with Shas Chairman Aryeh Deri, Religious Zionism Party head Bezalel Smotrich and other party leaders at the swearing-in of the 25th Knesset in Jerusalem, Nov. 15, 2022. Photo: Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90.

Israeli-Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu vowed on Thursday to ensure that all members of his prospective government will act responsibly, saying that the buck stops with him because his political partners are joining him and not vice versa.

In an interview with NPR‘s “Morning Edition,” Netanyahu said that “coalitions make interesting bedfellows” and that “with power comes responsibility…and I certainly will ensure that that will be the case.”

With respect to prospective Public Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, Netanyahu said that he had “modified a lot of his views” and marked a distinction between saying things on the campaign trail more than a decade ago and “actually [being] in a position of responsibility in governance.

“I don’t think anybody should trust anybody based on their promises,” Netanyahu continued. “I think what will be the test is not whether you believe [Ben-Gvir] or not, but whether you see an actual result. The same is true of me. The jury is out on all of this.”

Regarding the diplomatic process with the Palestinians, he said that his “formula is very simple….The only peace that will hold is one that we can defend. And the one that we can defend is one in which the Palestinians have all the powers to govern themselves, but none of the powers to threaten our life, which means that security, in whatever political arrangements we’ll have, realistically will have to remain in Israel’s hands.”

Netanyahu also emphasized that he has a strong relationship with U.S. President Joe Biden, despite longstanding disagreement on how to curb Iran’s nuclear program.

“I have a suspicion right now that because of the unfolding events, the dramatic [anti-regime protests] in Iran and the change of attitude that has happened across the political spectrum, left and right in many lands….I have a clear feeling that today in Washington, people understand that the way to go is not to return to the flawed nuclear agreement but in fact to adopt a much more resolute attitude,” he said.

Netanyahu on Tuesday rejected criticism that his emerging right-wing/religious coalition would pursue an extremist agenda. Speaking to the Knesset plenum, he said, “Everyone will live in accordance with their own faith. This will not become a nation of religious law. It will be a country in which we tend to all citizens of Israel, without exception.

“We were elected to lead in our way, the way of the nationalist right and the way of the liberal right, and that’s what we’ll do,” he said.

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