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Netanyahu: Palestinian conflict a ‘relatively marginal’ issue

Netanyahu: Palestinian conflict a ‘relatively marginal’ issue
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says his nation’s feud with the Palestinians ranks low among concerns facing the Middle East.

“With all due respect to those who talk about the heart of the conflict in the Middle East, [it is] the scope of the destruction of [neighboring] states and cities, the mass slaughter of innocents, the endless flow of refugees to other continents,” he said Thursday at a graduation ceremony for Israeli pilots at Hatzerim Air Force Base, according to The Times of Israel.

“[It is not] our conflict with the Palestinians, which is a relatively marginal issue,” Netanyahu continued. "[It is] the collapse of whole nations, of whole states in civil wars, and in the wars of radical Islam over the future of the Arab and Muslim world.

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“In just a few months in Syria, in Yemen and in [South] Sudan, more people were killed than a hundred years of conflict [with] the Palestinians ... [and these killings] have nothing to do with us.”

Netanyahu argued Israel remains close with the U.S., despite their current spat over his government’s settlement policy, which the United Nations Security Council condemned in a 14-0 vote last week in which the U.S. abstained.

“I am grateful to the American people, and to Congress and the American government, for defense aid to Israel, including two F-35s we received,” he said.

“The alliance between our countries is strong, even when there are disagreements between us. I look forward to working with the new administration to further strengthen the security of the two nations.”

Netanyahu’s remarks come one day after Secretary of State John KerryJohn Forbes KerryBiden soars as leader of the free world The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - COVID-19 fears surround Thanksgiving holiday OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Kerry says Paris climate deal alone 'is not enough' | EPA halts planned Taiwan trip for Wheeler| EPA sued over rule extending life of toxic coal ash ponds MORE fiercely criticized Israel’s settlement activities.

“If the choice is one state, Israel can either be Jewish or democratic,” Kerry said at the State Department. "It cannot be both, and it won’t ever really be at peace.”

Netanyahu slammed Kerry’s comments later that day, calling them a “great disappointment” that undermined Israel.

The U.S. abstained from vetoing a Dec. 23 U.N. Security Council resolution demanding Israel end settlement building in territories disputed by the Palestinians.

The measure’s passage escalated Netanyahu’s thorny relationship with President Obama by ending a longstanding American policy of shielding Israel from U.N. reproaches.