The Middle East would fall into the hands of either Sunni or Shi’ite extremists if Israel were not in the region, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a six-person delegation of Arab journalists on Tuesday.
Netanyahu spoke of this meeting during comments he made with US Energy Secretary Rick Perry before their talks in the Prime Minister’s Office, saying that he had just come from meeting the delegation of journalists, which include a blogger from Saudi Arabia and a journalist from Iraq.
Netanyahu said he told them there is an irreplaceable alliance between Israel and the United States, “but within the region, Israel is the irreplaceable power, because there is no other power in the region that without its presence and activity here, I would say the region would collapse.
“Without Israel,” Netanyahu continued, “without the things we do, the things we stand for and the things we protect, I think the entire Middle East would collapse by the forces of Islamic radicalism, whether Shi’ites led by Iran, or Sunni radicalism led by the Islamic State.”
Israel, he said, “is the one indigenous force in the Middle East that prevents the collapse of the Middle East.”
Netanyahu said it was “very important” to see Arab journalists “who recognize the role Israel plays in their own future, security and development.”
The prime minister said that the journalists told him that many in the Arab world “want to have peace with Israel, normalization with Israel and want to come to Israel. They are not always free to express it, and there is always opposition from those who want to take us back, but they expressed that desire.”
Meanwhile, three Palestinians were arrested on Tuesday for their alleged involvement in the assault of one of those journalists, the Saudi blogger Mahmoud Saud, on the Temple Mount and in the market in the Old City on Monday, according to Israel Police.
The blogger was cursed, spat at, jeered and told to “go to a synagogue” as he toured the Old City.
One video clip showed Saud walking on the Temple Mount as people shouted epithets at him such as “traitor,” “animal” and “normalizer,” and small boys approached and spat in his face. Another video clip showed plastic chairs and sticks being thrown at him as he walked in the market in the Old City.
Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this report.
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