Yesterday Danny Danon, the deputy defense minister of Israel, said that Prime Minister Netanyahu didn’t attend the Mandela memorial because he would have needed “hundreds” of security personnel to “protect him.”
When WNYC’s Brian Lehrer asked Danon why Netanyahu did not attend the event, and cited the reported cost as the reason, Danon answered:
It wasn’t only a budget issue… There were also security issues. Sending the Israeli prime minister to the event would have required a lot of security measures, and that was one of the decisions that The Prime Minister decided not to take with him hundreds of people to protect him.
Pressed by Lehrer, Danon, who is in Netanyahu’s Likud Party, said that it was a “mistake” for Israel not to send Netanyahu or President Shimon Peres.
Danon also said that Israel will be in the West Bank “forever,” and John Kerry’s demands that Israel leave the Jordan Valley eventually are unrealistic.
“I do respect his ambitions and stamina, coming to the Middle East so many times,” Danon said. But it is wrong to believe that Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians “will be finished” by May 2014. There are too many “tough players,” on the ground.
We look at what happened in Gaza. We cannot allow the same to happen in Judea and Samaria…. I’m against the presence of Palestinians in the cross border [area] with Jordan. Can you imagine Al Qaeda forces at the border with Canada or Mexico? That’s something we can’t allow. Maybe it looks nice when you come from Washington. You say I have an agreement. But we will stay there forever. We need to make sure that the security arrangements are in the hands of Israelis.
Danon said Israel cannot accept international troops or Palestinian troops in the Jordan valley.
And after Danon pushed for further sanctions on Iran, Lehrer said, “Israel is widely believed to have nuclear weapons. Why shouldn’t the world consider Israel another rogue state, like Iran?”
Danon said that Israel is different from Middle Eastern countries, it’s a European country that doesn’t threaten to annihilate its neighbors.
Lehrer went on, “Israel has also been criticized for doing things in security interest, but that go beyond the pale, in Lebanon and elsewhere. People don’t necessarily trust Israel to be a nuclear power. How can Israel continue to be an undeclared nuclear power?”
Good questions. Danon said that Israel is the “only stable state in the region.”
Lehrer did not ask Danon about his description of the West Bank as “Judea and Samaria,” indicating that it must stay in Jewish hands. Or about other extremist statements he’s made. Some have described Danon as a fascist for saying that Palestinians belong in Jordan. And he has been accused of racist incitement for calling African immigrants a “state of infiltrators” in Israel.