Benjamin Netanyahu: Israel, Palestine, Power, Corruption, Hate, and Peace | Lex Fridman Podcast #389

– We should never, and I
never sit aside and say, oh, They're just threatening to destroy us. They won't do it. If somebody threatens to eliminate you As Iran is doing today, And as Hitler did then
and people discounted it, Well, if somebody
threatens to annihilate us, Take them seriously and
act to prevent it early on. Don't let them have the means to do so Because that may be too late. – The following is a conversation
with Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel, Currently serving his
sixth term in office. He's one of the most
influential, powerful, And controversial men in the world, Leading a right-wing coalition government At the center of one of the most intense And long-lasting conflicts
in crises in human history. As we spoke, and as I speak now, Large scale protests are
breaking out all over Israel Over this government's
proposed judicial reform That seeks to weaken the Supreme Court In a bold accumulation of power. Given the current intense
political battles in Israel, Our previous intention
to speak for three hours Was adjusted to one
hour for the time being, But we agreed to speak again
for much longer in the future, I will also interview
people who harshly disagree With word spoken in this conversation, I will speak with other world leaders, With religious leaders, with
historians and activists, And with people who have
lived and have suffered Through the pain of war, Destruction and loss that stoke the fires

Of anger and hate in their heart. For this, I will travel anywhere
no matter how dangerous. If there's any chance It may help add to understanding
and love in the world. I believe in the power of
conversation to do just this, To remind us of our common humanity. I know I'm underqualified
and under-skilled For these conversations, So I will often fall short And I will certainly get
attacked, derided and slandered, But I will always turn the other
cheek and use these attacks To learn to improve, and no matter what, Never give into cynicism. This life, this world
of ours is too beautiful Not to keep trying, Trying to do some good in
whatever way each of us know how. I love you all. This is the Lex Fridman
podcast, to support it, Please check out our
sponsors in the description. And now, dear, dear friends,
here's Benjamin Netanyahu. You're loved by many people
here in Israel and in the world, But you're also hated by many. In fact, I think you may be one Of the most hated men in the world. So if there's a young man
or a young woman listening To this right now who have
such hate in their heart, What can you say to them to one day Turn that hate into love? – I disagree with the
premise of your question. I think I've enjoyed A very broad support around the world. There are certain corners in
which we have this animosity That you describe and it sort of permeates In some of the newspapers
and the news organs and so on

In the United States. But it certainly doesn't reflect The broad support that I have. I just gave an interview
on an Iranian channel, 16 million viewers. I gave another one, just a
little video a few years ago. 25 million viewers from Iran. Certainly no hate there. I have to tell you, not
from the regime, okay? And when I go around the
world and I've been around The world, people want to
hear what we have to say, What I have to say, as a leader of Israel Whom they respect increasingly As a rising power in the world. So I disagree with that. And the most important thing
that goes against what you said Is the respect that we
received from the Arab world, And the fact that we've made
four historic peace agreements With Arab countries, they made it with me. They didn't make it with anyone else. And I respect them and they respect me, And probably more to come. So I think the premise
is wrong, that's all. – Well, there's a lot of love. Yes, a lot of leaders
are collaborating are. – Respect, I said not, not love. – Okay, all right. Well, it's a spectrum, But there is people who
don't have good things To say about Israel, Who do have hate in
their heart for Israel. – [Benjamin] Yeah. – And what can you say to those people? – Well, I think they don't know very much.

I think they're guided
by a lot of ignorance. They don't know about Israel. They don't know that Israel
is a stellar democracy, That it happens to be One of the most advanced
societies on the planet. That what Israel develops helps humanity In every field in medicine and agriculture And in the environment and telecoms, And talk about AI in a minute, But changing the world for the better And spreading this among six continents. We've sent rescue teams
more than any other country In the world, and we're one 10th of 1% Of the world's population. But when there's an earth
earthquake or a devastation In Haiti or in the
Philippines, Israel is there. When there's an earthquake, Devastating earthquake in
Turkey, Israel was there. When there's something in
Nepal, Israel is there, And it's the second country. It's the second country
after in one case, India Or after another case, the
United States, Israel is there. Tiny Israel is a benefactor
to all of humanity. – So you're a student of history. If I can just linger on that
philosophical notion of hate, That part of human nature,
if you look at World War II, What do you learn from human nature, From the rise of the Third
Reich and the rise of somebody Like Hitler and the hate
that permeates that? – Well, what I've learned Is that you have to nip
bad things in the bud. You have to, there's a
Latin term that says. Stop bad things when they're small. And the deliberate hatred,

The incitement of hatred
against one community, Its demonization,
delegitimization that goes with it Is a very dangerous thing. And that happened in the case of the Jews, What started with the Jews
soon spread to all of humanity. So what we've learned is
that's what we should never, And I never sit aside and say, oh, They're just threatening to
destroy us, they won't do it. If somebody threatens to eliminate you As Iran is doing today,
and as Hitler did then And people discounted it, Well, if somebody
threatens to annihilate us, Take them seriously and
act to prevent it early on. Don't let them have the means to do so, Because that may be too late. – So in those threats
underlying that hatred, How much of it is anti-Zionism And how much of it is anti-Semitism? – I don't distinguish between the two. You can't say, well, I'm okay with Jews, But I just don't think there
should be a Jewish state. It's like saying, I'm not anti-American. I just don't think there
should be an America. That's basically what people are saying Vis-a-vis anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism. When you're say anti-Zionism, You're saying the Jewish
people don't have a right To have a state of their own. And that is a denial of a basic principle That I think completely
unmasks what is involved here. Today, anti-Semitism is anti-Zionism. Those who oppose the Jewish
people oppose the Jewish state. – If we jump from human history To the current particular moment,

There's protests in Israel now About the proposed judicial
reform that gives power To your government to
override the Supreme Court. So the critics say that this
gives too much power to you, Virtually making you a dictator. – Yeah, well, that's ridiculous. The mere fact that you
have so many demonstrations And protests, some dictatorship, huh? (person laughing) There's a lot of democracy here. More rambunctious and more robust Than just anywhere on the planet. – Can you steel man the case That this may give too much power To the coalition government,
to the prime minister, Not just to you, but to those who follow. – No, I think that's complete hogwash, Because I think there's very few people Are demonstrating against this. Quite a few, quite many Don't have an idea what
is being discussed, Basically being sloganized. You can sloganize, You know something about
not mass media right now, But the social network, You can basically feed deliberately With big data and big money. You can just feed slogans
and get into people's minds. I'm sure you don't think I exaggerate, Because you can tell me more about that. And you can create mass mobilization Based on these absurd slogans. So here's where we I come
from and what we're doing, What we're trying to do,

And what we've changed in
what we're trying to do. I'm a 19th century
democrat in my small D yes, In my views. That is, I asked the
question, what is democracy? Okay, so democracy is
the will of the majority And the protection of the rights, They call it the rights of the minority. But I say the rights of
the individual, okay. So how do you balance the two? Okay, how do you avoid mobocracy? Okay, and how do you avoid dictatorship? The opposite side, The way you avoid it is something
that was built essentially By British philosophers
and French philosophers, But was encapsulated
by the founding fathers Of the United States. You create a balance
between the three branches Of government, okay? The legislative, the
executive and the judiciary. And this balance is
what assures the balance Between majority rights
and individual rights. And you have to balance all of them, okay? That balance was maintained in
Israel in its first 50 years, And was gradually overtaken
and basically broken By the most activist
judicial court on the planet. That's what happened here. And gradually over the
last two, three decades, The court aggregated for itself The powers of the parliament
and the executive. So we're trying to
bring it back into line, Bringing it back into line, Into what is common in all
parliamentary democracies. And in the United States
doesn't mean taking the pendulum From one side and bringing
it to the other side.

We want checks and balances,
not unrivaled power, Just as we said, we want
an independent judiciary But not in all powerful judiciary. That balance does not mean
bringing it back into line. Doesn't mean that you can have The Parliament Override any decision that
the Supreme Court does. So I pretty much early on said, After the judicial reform was introduced, Get rid of the idea of a
sweeping override clause That would have, with 61
votes, that's majority of one. You can just nullify any
Supreme Court decision. So let's move it back into the center. So that's gone. And most of the criticism
on the judicial reform Was based on a an
unlimited override clause, Which I've said is
simply not gonna happen. People are discussing some something That already for six
months does not exist. The second point that
we received criticism on Was the structure of how do you
choose Supreme Court judges? Okay, how do you choose them? And the critics of the reform
are saying that the idea That elected officials should
choose Supreme Court judges Is the end of democracy. If that's the case, the United
States is not a democracy. Neither is France, and neither
are just, I don't know, Just about every, every
democracy on the planet. So there is a view here that
you can't have the sorted hands Of elected officials involved
in the choosing of judges. And in the Israeli system, The judicial activism went
so far that effectively, The sitting judges have an effective veto On choosing judges,

Which means that this is
a self-selecting court That just perpetrates itself. And we want to correct that, again, Want to correct it in a balanced way. And that's basically
what we're trying to do. So I think there's a lot of
misinformation about that. We're trying to bring Israeli democracy To where it was in its first 50 years And it was a stellar democracy. It still is, Israel is a
democracy, will remain a democracy, A vibrant democracy. And believe me, the fact that people Are arguing and
demonstrating in the streets And protesting is the best proof of that. And that's how it'll remain. – We spoke about tech companies offline, There's a lot of tech companies Nervous about this judicial reform. Can you speak to why
large and small companies Have a future in Israel? – Because Israel is a free market economy. I had something to do with that. I introduced dozens and
dozens of free market reforms That made Israel move from $17,000 Per capita income to within
very short time to $54,000. That's nominal GDP per capita, According to the IMF. And we've overtaken in that
Japan, France, Britain, Germany. And how did that happen? Because we unleashed The genius that we have and the initiative And the entrepreneurship that
is late in our population. And to do that, we had
to create free markets. So we created that.

So Israel has one of the most
vibrant free market economies In the world, and the second thing we have Is a permanent investment
in conceptual products, Because we have a permanent
investment in the military, In our security services, Creating basically knowledge workers Who then become knowledge entrepreneurs. And so we create this structure, And that's not gonna go away. There's been a decline in investments In the high tech globally. I think that's driven by many factors. But the most important
one is the interest rate, Which I think will, it'll
fluctuate up and down, But Israel will remain a
very attractive country Because it produces so many, So many knowledge workers in
a knowledge-based economy. And it's changing so rapidly,
the world is changing. You're looking for the
places that have innovation. The future belongs to those who innovate. Israel is the preeminent
innovation nation. It has few competitors and
if we would say, all right, Where do you have This close cross-disciplinary fermentation Of various skills in areas, I would say it's in Israel
and I'll tell you why. We used to be just telecoms
because people went out Of the military intelligence RNSA. But that's been now broad based. So you find it in medicine, You find it in biology,
you find it in agritech, You find it everywhere. Everything is becoming technologized. And in Israel, everybody
is dealing in everything.

And that's a potent reservoir of talent That the world is not gonna pass up. In fact, it's coming to us. We just had Nvidia coming here, And they decided to build
a supercomputer in Israel, Wonder why, we've had intel
coming here and deciding Not to invest $25 billion just
now in a new plant in Israel. I wonder why. I don't wonder why, they know why, Because the talent is here
and the freedom is here, Then it'll remain so. – So you had a conversation
about AI with Sam Altman Of OpenAI and with Elon Musk. – Yeah. – What was the content
of that conversation? What's your vision for sort
of this very highest of tech, Which is artificial intelligence? – Well, first of all, I have a high regard For the people I talk to, okay? I understand that they understand
things I don't understand, And I don't pretend to
understand everything. But I do understand one thing. I understand that AI is
developing at a geometric rate, And mostly in political life. And in life in general, People don't have an intuitive
grasp of geometric growth. You understand things
basically in linear increments. And the idea that you're
coming up a ski slope Is very foreign to people,
so they don't understand it. And they're naturally also
sort of taken aback by it, Because what do you do? Okay, so I think there's
several conclusions From my conversations with them, And from my other observations
that I've been talking about

For many years, I'm talking
about the need to do this. Well, the first thing is this, There is no possibility of not
entering AI with full force. Secondly, there is a need for regulation. Third, it's not clear
there'll be global regulation. Fourth, it's not clear where it ends up. I certainly cannot say that. Now, you might say, does
it come to control us? Okay, that's a question. Does it come to control us? I don't know the answer to that. I think that as one observation That I had from these conversations is, If it does come to control, Is that's probably the only chance Of having universal regulation Because I don't see anyone deciding To avoid the race And cooperate unless you have that threat, Doesn't mean you can't
regulate AI within countries, Even without that understanding. But it does mean that there's
a limit to regulation, Because every country will
wanna make sure that it's not, Doesn't give up competitive advantage If there is no universal regulation. I think that right now, 10 years ago I read a novel. I don't read novels, But I was forced to read
one by a scientific advisor. I read history, I read about economics, I read about technology,
I just don't read novels. Okay, and this time
follow Churchill, he said, Fact is better than fiction. Well, this fiction would become fact.

And it was a book, it was a novel About a Chinese American future cyber war. And I read the book, One sitting called in a team of experts. And I said, all right, Let's turn Israel into one of
the world's five cyber powers, And let's do it very quickly. And we did actually, we did exactly that. I think AI is bigger than
that and related to that, Because it'll affect, well,
cyber affects everything, But AI will affect it
even more fundamentally. And the joining of the two
could be very powerful. So I think in Israel, We have to do it anyway
for security reasons, And we're doing it. But I think, what about our databases That are already very robust
on the medical records Of 98% of our population? Why don't we stick a
genetic database on that? Why don't we do other things
that could bring magical What are seemingly magical cures and drugs And medical instruments for that? That's one possibility. We have it as I said,
in every single field. The conclusion is this,
we have to move on AI, We are moving on ai just
as we moved on cyber. And I think Israel will be One of the leading AI powers in the world. The questions I don't have an
answer to is where does it go? How much does it chew up on jobs? There's an assumption
that I'm not sure is true, That all previous, the two big Previous revolutions
in the human condition, Namely the agricultural revolution

And the industrial revolution, Definitely produced more
jobs than they consumed. Okay, that is not obvious to me at all. I mean, I could see new
jobs creating, and yes, I have that comforting statement, But it's not quite true
because I think on balance, They'll probably consume more jobs, Many more jobs than they'll create. – At least in the short term. And we don't know about the long term. – No, I don't know about the long term, But I used to have the comfort
being a free market guy, I always said, we're
gonna produce more jobs By limiting certain government jobs. We're actually putting out in the market. We'll create more jobs,
which obviously happened. We had one telecom company,
a government company. When I said, we're going to
create competition, they said, You're gonna run us out, we're
not gonna have more workers. Yeah, they had 13,000 workers. They went down to seven, But we created another 40,000
in the other companies. So that was a comforting thought. I always knew that was true, okay? Not only that, I also knew that wealth
would spread by opening up The markets completely
opposite to the socialist And semi-socialist Cree
that they had here. They said, you're gonna
make the rich richer And the poor poorer, no,
I made everyone richer. And actually, the people
who entered the job market, Because of the reforms we did,
actually became a lot richer. On the lower ladders of
the socioeconomic measure. But here's the point, I don't know.

I don't know, that we will
not have what Elon Musk Calls the end of scarcity. So you'll have the end of scarcity, You'll have enormous productivity. Very few people are producing
enormous added value. You're gonna have to tax that
to pass it to the others. Okay, you're gonna have to do that. That's a political question. I'm not sure how we answer that. What if you tax and
somebody else doesn't tax? You're gonna get everybody to go there. That's an issue, An international issue that we
constantly have to deal with. And the second question you have is, Suppose you solve that problem
and you deliver money, okay, To those who are not
involved in the AI economy, What do they do? The first question you ask somebody Whom you just met after the polite, The polite exchanges is what do you do? Right, well, people define
themselves by their profession. And it's gonna be difficult if
you don't have a profession. And people will spend
more time self searching, They'll more time in the
arts, more time and leisure. I understand that if I have
to bet it will annihilate Many more jobs, than it will create, And it'll force a structural
change in our economics, In our economic models,
and in our politics. And I'm not sure where it's gonna go. – And that's something
we have to respond to At the nation level and just
as a human civilization, Both the threat of AI to
just us as a human species, And then the effect on the
jobs, and like you said, Cybersecurity.

– And what do you think, you
think we're gonna lose control? – No, I, first of all, I do believe maybe naively
that it will create More jobs than it takes. – Write that down and we'll check it. – It's on record. And, we don't say we'll
check it after our lifetime. No, we'll see it in a few years. – We'll see it in a few years. I'm really concerned about
cybersecurity and the nature Of how that changes with the power of AI. And in terms of existential threats, I think there will be so much threats That aren't existential along the way That that's the thing I'm
mostly concerned about, Versus AI taking complete control And becoming sort of
superseding the human species. Although that is something
you should consider seriously Because of the exponential
growth of its capability. – Yeah, it's exactly
the exponential growth Which we understand is before
us, but we don't really, It's very hard to project forward. – [Lex] To really understand. – That's, right, exactly right. So, you know, I deal with what I can And where I can affect something, I tend not to worry about
things I don't control. Because at a certain point,
you know, there's no point. I mean, you have to decide What you're spending your time on. So I think in practical terms, We'll make Israel a formidable AI power. We understand the limitation
of scale, computing power And other things.

But I think within the, those limits, I think we can make here
this miracle that we, We did in many other things,
we do more with less. I don't care if it's water, The production of water or
the production of energy, Energy or the production of
knowledge or the production Of cyber capabilities, defense and other, We just do more with
less, and I think in AI, We're gonna do a lot more with
relatively small but highly Gifted population, very gifted. – So taking a small tangent,
as we talked about offline, You have a background in Taekwondo? Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. We'll mention Elon Musk. I've trained with both. Just as a quick question, Who are you betting on in a fight? – Well, I refuse to answer that. I will say this. – A politician you are. – Yeah, of course, here, I'm a politician. I'm openly telling you that
I'm dodging the question. Okay, but I'll say this,
you know, I actually, I spent five years in our special forces In the military, And we barely spent a
minute on martial arts. I actually learned Taekwondo
later when I came to, It wasn't even atm, MIT,
at MIT think I did karate. But when I came to the UN,
I had a martial arts expert, And he taught me Taekwondo,
which was kind of interesting. Now, the question you
really have to ask is, Why did we learn martial arts
in this special elite unit? And the answer is, there's no point. If you saw Indiana Jones,
you know, there's no point.

You just pull the trigger, that simple. Now, I don't expect
anyone to pull the trigger On this combat, And I'm sure you'll make
sure that doesn't happen. – Yeah, I mean, martial
arts is this kind of, It's bigger than just combat. It's this kind of journey
of humility and it has, It's an art form, it truly is an art. But it's fascinating
that these two figures In tech are facing each other. And I won't ask a question
of who you would face And how you would do, but. – Well, I'm facing opponents all the time. – [Lex] All the time? – Yeah, that's part of life, part of life. – [Lex] Not yet. – Part of life is competition. The only time competition ends is death. But, political life, economic life, Cultural life is engaged
continuously in creativity And competition. And the problem I have with
that is as I mentioned earlier, Just before we began the podcast, Is that at a certain point, You want to put barriers to monopoly. And if you are in a
really able competitor, You're gonna create a monopoly. That's what Peter Thiel says
is a natural course of things. It's what I learned Basically in the Boston Consulting Group, If you are a very able competitor, You'll create scale advantages
that gives you the ability To lock out your competition,
and as a prime minister, I want to assure that there
is competition in the market.

So you have to limit This competitive power at a certain point. And that becomes increasingly hard In the world where
everything is intermiss. Where do you define market segments? Where do you define monopoly? How do you do that? That is very, that actually conceptually I find very challenging Because of all the dozens of political, Of economic reforms that I've made, The most difficult part
is the conceptual part. Once you have, you've
ironed it out and you say, Here's what I want to do,
here's the right thing to do, Then you have a practical problem Of overcoming union resistance,
political resistance, Press, opponents from this or that corner. That's a practical matter. But if you have it conceptually defined, You can move ahead to reformed economies Or reform education or
reform transportation, Fine, in the question of the growing power Of large companies, big tech companies To monopolize the markets
because they're better at it, They provide a service, They provide it lower cost
at rapidly declining cost. Where do you stop? Where do you stop Monopoly power Is a crucial question
because it also becomes Now a political question. If you amass enormous
amount of economic power, Which is information power, That also monopolizes
the political process, Which creates, these are real questions

That are not obvious. I don't have an obvious
answer because as I said, As a 19th century Democrat, These are questions of the 21st century, Which people should begin to think. Do you have a solution to that? – The solution of monopolies
growing arbitrarily. – [Benjamin] Yeah. – Unstoppably in power. – In economic power, and
therefore in political power. – I mean, some of that is regulation, Some of that is competition. – You know where to draw the line? It's not breaking up AT&T,
it's not that simple. – Well, I believe in
the power of competition That there will always Be somebody that challenges the big guys, Especially in the space of AI. The more open source
movements are taking hold, The more the little guy
can become the big guy. – So you're saying basically The regulatory instrument is the market. – In large part, in most
part, that's the hope. Maybe I'm the dreamer. – That's been in many ways
my policy up to now, okay. That the best regulator is the market. The best regulator in economic
activity is the market. And the best regulator
in political matters Is the political market,
that's called elections. That's what regulates, You have a lousy government and
people make lousy decisions. Well, you don't need the wise men Raised above the masses to decide What is good and what is bad.

Let the masses decide, Let them vote every
four years or whatever, They throw you up, by the
way, it happened to me, There's life after political death. There's actually political life. I was reelected five or six times, And this is my sixth term. So I believe in that. I'm not sure, I'm not sure
that in economic matters, In the geometric growth of tech companies, That you'll always have the
little guy, the nimble mammal, That will come out and slay the dinosaurs Or overcome the dinosaurs, Which is essentially what you said. – Yeah, I wouldn't count
out the little guy. – You wouldn't count out the little, Well, I hope you're right. – Well, let me ask you about
this market of politics. So you have served six
terms as prime minister Over 15 years in power. Let me ask you again, human nature, Do you worry about the corrupting nature Of power on you as a
leader, on you as a man? – Not at all. Because I think that again, The thing that drives me Is nothing but the mission
that I took to assure The survival and thriving of
the state, the Jewish state. That is its economic prosperity, But its security and its
ability to achieve peace With our neighbors and
I'm committed to it. I think there's still, There are many things that have been done. There are a few big things
that I can still do,

But it doesn't only depend
on my sense of mission. It depends on the market, as we say. It depends really on the
will of the Israeli voters And the Israeli voters
have decided to vote For me again and again,
even though I wield No power in the press, no power In many quarters here and so on, nothing. I mean, I am probably, I'm going to be very soon the
longest serving prime minister In the last half century
in the Western democracies. But that's not because I
amassed great political power In any of the institutions. I remember I had a conversation
with Silvio Berlusconi, Who recently died, and he said
to me about, I don't know, 15 years ago, something like that. He said, so Bibi, how many Of Israel's television
stations do you have? And I said, none. He said, do you have none? – Do you have? – Do you have I said, none. I have two. He said, no, no, but what you mean You don't have any that you control? I said, not only do I have
any, none that I control, They're all against me. So he says, so how do you win elections? And with both hands tied behind your back. And I said, the hard way, that's why I have the largest party, But I don't have many more
seats that I would have If I had sympathetic voice in the media. And Israel until recently was dominated Completely by one side
of the political spectrum

That often vilified me, not me, Because they viewed me
as representing basically The conservative voices in
Israel that are majority in. So the idea that I'm an omnipotent, Authoritarian dictator is ridiculous. I am, I would say I'm
a not merely a champion Of democracy and democratization. I believe ultimately the
decision is with the voters. And the voters, even though they've had, They have constant,
constant press attacks. They've chosen to put me back in. So I don't believe in this
thing of amassing the corrupting Power of, if you don't have
elections, if you don't have, If you control the means
of influencing the voters. I understand what you're
saying, but in my case, It's exact opposite. I have to constantly go in elections, Constantly with a disadvantage That the major media outlets are very Violently sometimes against me. But it's fine. And I keep on winning. I don't know what you're talking, I would say the concentration of power Lies elsewhere, not here. – Well, you have been involved
in several corruption cases. How much corruption is there in Israel And how do you fight it in
your own party and in Israel? – Well, you should ask
a different question. What's happened to these cases? These cases basically are
collapsing, before our eyes, There was recently an
event in which the judges, The three judges in my case, Called in the prosecution
and said, your flagship,

The bribery charts
so-called bribery charts, It's gone, doesn't exist Before a single defense
witness was called. And it sort of tells you that
this thing is evaporating. It's quite astounding,
even that, I have to say, Was covered even by the
mainstream press in Israel, Because it's such an earthquake. So, a lot of these charges are not a lot, These charges will prove to be nothing. I always said, listen, I stand
before the legal process. I don't claim that I'm
exempt from it in any way. On the contrary, I think the truth will come
out and it's coming out. And we see that not only
that, but with other things. So I think it's kind of instructive That no politician has been more vilified. None has been put to such, what is it? About a quarter of a
billion shekels were used To scrutinize me, scour my bank account, Sending people to the Philippines,
into Mexico, into Europe, Into America, and looking
at everybody using spyware, The most advanced spyware on the planet Against my associates,
blackmailing witnesses, Telling them, think about your family, Think about your wife, You better tell us what you want. All that is coming out in the trial. So I would say that most
people now are not asking Are no longer asking,
including my opponents. It's sort of trickling in
as the stuff comes out. People are not saying,
what did Netanyahu do? Because he apparently did nothing. What was done to him is
something that people ask, What was done to, what
was done to our democracy,

What was done in the
attempt to put down somebody Who keeps winning elections, Despite the handicaps that I described. Maybe we can nail him by framing him. And the one thing I can
say about this court trial Is that things are coming
out and that's very good. Just objective things are coming out, Changing the picture. So I would say the attempt
to brand me as corrupt Is falling on its face. But the thing that is being
uncovered in the trial, Such as the use of spyware On a politician, a
politician's surroundings, To try to shake them
down in investigations, Put them in flea ridden cells for 21 days, Invite their 84 year old
mother to investigations Without cause, bringing in their
mistresses in the corridor, Shaking them down. That's what people are asking. That corruption is what
they want corrected. – What is the top obstacle To peaceful coexistence of
Israelis and Palestinians? Let's talk about the big question of peace In this part of the world. – Well, I think the reason
you have the persistence Of the Palestinian Israeli conflict, Which goes back about a century, Is the persistent Palestinian refusal To recognize a Jewish
state, a nation state For the Jewish people in any boundary. That's why they opposed the establishment Of the state of Israel
before we had a state. And that's why they've opposed
it after we had a state. They opposed it when we were,

We didn't have Judea and Samaria, The West Bank in our heads and Gaza. And they opposed it after we have, It doesn't make a difference. It's basically their persistent refusal To recognize a Jewish
state in any boundaries. And I think that their
tragedy is that they've been Commandeered for a century
by leadership that refused To compromise with the idea of Zionism, Namely that the Jews
deserve a state in this part Of the world, the territorial
dispute is something else. You have a territorial
dispute if you say, okay, You are living on this side,
we're living on that side, Let's decide where the
border is and so on. That's not what the argument is. The Palestinian society,
which is itself fragmented, But all the factions agree, There shouldn't be a Jewish
state anywhere, okay? They just disagree between
Hamas that says, oh, Well you should have it, We should get rid of it with terror. And the others who say, We know we should also use
political means to dissolve it. So that is the problem. – So even as part of a two-state solution, They're still against the idea. – Well, they don't want
a state next to Israel. They want a state instead of Israel. And they say, if we get a state, We'll use it as a springboard to destroy The smaller Israeli state, Which is what happened When Israel unilaterally
walked out of Gaza And effectively established
a Hamas state there.

They didn't say, oh, good, now we have Our own territory, our own state. Israel is no longer
there, let's build peace. Let's build economic projects. Let's enfranchise our people. No, they turned basically
into a terror bastion For which they fired
10,000 rockets into Israel. When Israel left Lebanon, Because we had terrorist
attacks from there. Then we had Lebanon
taken over by Hezbollah, A terrorist organization
that seeks to destroy Israel. And therefore, every
time we just walked out, What we got was not peace. We didn't give territory for peace. We got territory for terror. That's what we had, And that's what would happen As long as the reigning ideology says, We don't want Israel in any border. So the the idea of two states
assumes that you'd have On the other side a
state that wants to live In peace and not one that
will be overtaken by Iran And its proxies in two seconds And become a base to destroy Israel. And therefore, I think
that most Israelis today, If you ask them, they'd
say it's not gonna work In that concept, so what do you do? What do you do with the Palestinians? Okay, they're still there. Unlike them, I don't
want to throw them out. They're gonna be living here
and we're gonna be living here In an area, which is, by
the way, just to understand, The area, the entire area
of so-called West Bank And Israel is the width
of the Washington Beltway

More or less, just a
little more, not much more. You can't really divide it up. You can't say, well,
you're gonna gonna fly in. Who controls the airspace? Well, it takes you about
two and a half minutes To cross it with a regular 747, okay? With a fighter plane, It takes you a minute and a half, okay? How are you gonna divide the airspace? Well, you're not gonna divide it. Israel's gonna control that airspace And the electromagnetic space and so on. So security has to be
in the hands of Israel. My view of how you solve this problem Is that is a simple principle. The Palestinians should
have all the powers To govern themselves And none of the powers to threaten Israel, Which basically means
that the responsibility For overall security remains with Israel. And from a practical point of view, We've seen that every time
that Israel leaves a territory And takes its security
forces out of an area, It immediately is overtaken
by Hamas or Hezbollah or, Who basically are committed
to the destruction of Israel And also bring misery to the Palestinians Or Arab subjects. So I think that principle is
less than perfect sovereignty, Because you're taking a
certain amount of powers, Sovereign powers,
especially security away. But I think it's the
only practical solution. So people say, ah, but
it's not a perfect state. I say, okay, call it
what you will call it, I don't know, limited sovereignty,

Call it autonomy plus, call it
whatever you want to call it. But that's the reality, and right now, If you ask Israelis across
the political spectrum, Except the very hard left,
most Israelis agree with that. They don't really debate it. – So two state solution
where Israel controls The security of the entire region. – We don't call it quite that. I mean, there are different names, But the idea is yes,
Israel controls security, And is the entire area. It's this tiny area between
the Jordan River and the sea. I mean, you can walk it In not one afternoon,
if you're really fit, You can do it in a day,
less than a day, I did. – So the expansion of
settlements in the West Bank Has been a top priority
for this new government. So people may harshly
criticize this as contributing To escalating the Israel
Palestine tensions. Can you understand that perspective That this expansion of
settlements is not good For this two state solutions? – Yeah, I can understand, I can understand what they're saying, And they don't understand
why they're wrong. First, most Israelis who live in Judea, Samaria live in, in the urban blocks. And that accounts for about
90% of the population, okay? And everybody recognizes
that those urban blocks Are gonna be part of Israel
in any future arrangement. So they're really arguing about something That has already been decided
and agreed upon really, By Americans, even by Arabs, many Arabs, They don't think that Israel

Is going to dismantle these blocks. You look outside the window here, And within about a
kilometer a mile from here Is you have Jerusalem, Half of Jerusalem grew naturally
beyond the old 1967 border. So you're not gonna
dismantle half of Jerusalem. That's not gonna happen. And most people don't expect that. Then you have the other 10% Scattered in tiny, small communities. And people say, well, you're
gonna have to take them out. Why, why? Remember that in pre 1967, Israel, We have over a million
and a half Arabs here. We don't say, oh, Israel has
to be ethnically cleansed From Arabs in order to have, From its Arab citizens
in order to have peace. Of course not, Jews can live among Arabs, And Arabs can live among Jews. And what is being advanced By those people who say that we can't live In our ancestral homeland
in these disputed areas. Nobody says that this
is Palestinian areas, And nobody says that these
Israeli areas, we claim them, They claim them. We've only been attached to
this land for oh, 3,500 years. But it's a dispute, I agree, But I don't agree that we
should throw out the Arabs. And I don't think that they
should throw out the Jews. And if somebody said to you, The only way we're gonna
have peace with Israel Is to have an ethnically
cleansed Palestinian entity, That's outrageous, if
you said the only way, You shouldn't have Jews
living in, I don't know,

In suburbs of London
or New York and so on. I don't think that will play too well. The world is actually
advancing a solution that says That Jews cannot live among Arabs, And Arabs cannot live among Jews. I don't think that's
the right way to do it. And I think there's a solution out there, But I don't think we're gonna get to it, Which is less than perfect sovereignty, Which involves Israeli security
maintained for the entire Territory by Israel, which
involves not rooting out anybody. Not kicking out uprooting
Arabs or Palestinians. They're gonna live in
enclaves in Sovereign Israel. And we're going to live
probably in enclaves there, Probably through transportation continuity As opposed to territorial continuity. That is, for example, you can have tunnels And overpasses and so on that connect The various communities. We're doing that right now. We're doing that right
now, and it actually works. I think there is a solution to this. It's not the perfect world
that people think of, Because that model I
think doesn't apply here If it applies elsewhere, it's a question. I don't think so. But I think there's one other thing, And that's the main thing
that I've been involved in. People said, if you don't
solve the Palestinian problem, You're not gonna get to
the Arab world world. You're not gonna have
peace with the Arab world. Remember, the Palestinians
are about 2% of the Arab world And the other 98%, You're not gonna make peace
with them and that's our goal.

And for a long time, People accepted that after
the initial peace treaties With Egypt, with the Prime Minister Begging of and President Sudan of Egypt, And then with Jordan
between Prime Minister And King Hussein, for
a quarter of a century, We didn't have any more peace
treaties because people said, You gotta go through the
Palestinians and the Palestinians, They don't want a solution
of the kind that I described Or any kind except the one that involved The dissolution of the state of Israel. So we could wait another half century. And I said, no, I mean, I don't think that we should accept The premise that we have to
wait for the Palestinians Because we'll have to wait forever. So I decided to do it differently. I decided to go directly
to the Arab Capitals And to make the historic Abraham Accords And essentially reversing the equation, Not a peace process that goes inside out, But outside in. And we went directly to
these countries and forged These breakthrough peace accords With the United Arab Emirates, With Bahrain, with Morocco and with Sudan. And we're now trying to
expand that in a quantum leap With Saudi Arabia. – What does it take to do
that with Saudi Arabia, With the Saudi Crown
Prince Mohammed bin Salman? – I'm a student of history
and I read a lot of history And I read that in the
Versailles discussions After World War I, president
Woodrow Wilson said, I believe in open covenants
openly arrived at,

I have my correction, I believed in open covenants
secretly arrived at, So we're not going to
advance a Saudi Israeli peace By having it publicly discussed. And in any case, it's a
decision of the Saudis If they want to do it. But there's obviously a mutual interest. So here's my view, If we try to wait for the 2%
in order to get to the 98%, We're gonna fail and we have failed. If we go to the 98%, We have a much greater
chance of persuading the 2%. You know why? Because the 2%, the
Palestinian hope to vanquish The state of Israel and
not make peace with it Is based among other things On the assumption that eventually the 98%, The rest of the Arab world will kick in And destroy the Jewish state, Help them dissolve or
destroy the Jewish state. When that hope is taken away, Then you begin to have a turn
to the realistic solutions Of coexistence, by the way, They require compromise
on the Israeli side too. I'm perfectly cognizant of
that and willing to do that, But I think a realistic
compromise will be struck Much more readily when the conflict Between Israel and the Arab states, The Arab world, is effectively solved. And I think we're on that path,
it was a conceptual change, I've been involved in a few, I told you the conceptual battle is always The most difficult one. I had to fight this battle to
convert a semi-socialist state

Into a free market capitalist state. And I have to say that
most people today recognize The power of competition and
the benefits of free markets. So we also had to fight
this battle that said, You have to go through The Palestinian strait, STRAIT, To get to the other places. There's no way to avoid this. You have to go through
this impassable pass. And I think that now
people are recognizing That we'll go around it
and probably circle back. And that I think actually gives hope Not only to have an Arab-Israeli peace, But circling back an
Israeli Palestinian piece. And obviously this is not
something that you find In the soundbites and so on, In the popular discussion of the press. But that idea is permeating, And I think it's the right idea. 'Cause I think it's the
only one that will work. – So expanding the circle peace, Just to linger on that requires what? Secretly talking man
to man, human to human, To leaders of other nations. – Theoretically, you're right. – Theoretically, okay. Well, let me ask you another
theoretical question, On this circle of peace,
as a student of history, Looking at the ideas of war and peace, What do you think can achieve
peace in the war in Ukraine Looking at another part of the world? If you consider the fight for peace In this part of the world, How can you apply that to
that other part of the world

Between Russia and Ukraine now? – I think it's one of the
savage horrors of history And one of the great
tragedies that is occurring. And let me say in advance That if I have any
opportunity to use my contacts To help bring about and into
this tragedy, I'll do so. I know both leaders,
but I don't just jump in And assume, if there's be a desire At a certain point because the conditions Have created the possibility
of helping stop this carnage, Then I'll do it. And that's why I choose
my words carefully, Because I think that may be The best thing that I could do. Look, I think what you see in Ukraine Is what happens if you
have territorial designs On a territory by a country
that has nuclear weapons. And that to me, you see
the change in the equation. Now, I think that people are
loathed to use nuclear weapons, And I'm not sure that I would think That the Russian side would
use them with happy abandon. I don't think that's the question, But you see how the whole
configuration changes When that happens. So you have to be very careful On how you resolve this conflict. So it doesn't, well, it
doesn't go off the rails, So to speak. That's by the way, the corollary is here. We don't want Iran, Which is an aggressive force With a just aggressive
ideology of dominating First the Muslim world and
then eliminating Israel And then becoming a global
force, having nuclear weapons.

It's totally different
when they don't have it Than when they do have it. And that's why one of my main
goals has been to prevent Iran From having the means of mass destruction, Which will be used atomic bombs, Which they openly say
will be used against us. And you can understand that, How to bring about an end to Ukraine. I have my ideas. I don't think it's worthwhile
discussing them now, Because they might be required later on. – Do you believe in the
power of conversation Since you have contacts
with Volodymyr Zelenskyy And Vladimir Putin, Just leaders sitting in
a room and discussing How the end of war can be brought about? – I think it's a combination of that, But I think it's the question of interest And whether you have to get both sides To a point where they think
that that conversation Would lead to something useful. I don't think they're there right now. – What part of this is just
basic human ego stubbornness, All of this between leaders, Which is why I bring up
the power of conversation, Of sitting in a room
realizing we're human beings. And then there's a history that
connects Ukraine and Russia. – Yeah, I don't think
they're in a position To enter a room right now, realistically. I mean, you can posit
that it would be good If that could happen,
but entering the room Is sometimes more complicated
than what happens in the room. And there's a lot of
pre-negotiations on the negotiation, Then you negotiate endlessly
on the negotiation.

They're not even there. – It took a lot of work for you to get A handshake in the past. – It's an interesting question. How did the peace, the Abraham
Accords, how did that begin? We had decades, 70 years or
65 years where these people Would not meet openly Or even secretly with an Israeli leader. Yeah, we had the Mossad making contacts With them all the time and so on. But how do we break the ice to
the top level of leadership? Well, we broke the ice Because I took a very
strong stance against Iran, And the Gulf states understood that Iran Is a formidable danger to them. So we had a common interest. And the second thing is that
because of the economic reforms That we had produced in Israel, Israel became a technological powerhouse. And that could help their nations, Not only in terms of anything, Of just bettering the
life of their peoples. And the combination of the desire To have some kind of
protection against Iran Or some kind of cooperation against Iran And civilian economic
cooperation came to a head. When I gave a speech in
the American Congress, Which I didn't do lightheartedly, I had to decide to challenge
a sitting American president On the so-called Iranian deal, Which I thought would
pave Iran's path with gold To be an effective nuclear power. That's what would happen. So I went there, and in the
course of giving that speech

Before the joint session of Congress, Our delegation received calls
from Gulf States who said, We can't believe what your
prime minister is doing. He's challenging the president
of the United States. Well, I had no choice. I mean, because I thought My country's own existence was imperiled. And remember, we always understand Through changing administrations That America under no
matter what leadership, Is always the irreplaceable And indispensable ally of Israel. And we'll always remain
that we can have arguments As we have, but in the family, As we say in the, it's the family. But nevertheless, I was
forced to take a stand, That produced calls from Gulf States That ultimately led to
clandestine meetings That ultimately flowered into
the Abraham Accords then. And I think we're at a point
where the idea of ending The Arab-Israeli conflict, Not the Palestinian Israeli conflict, The Arab-Israeli conflict can happen. I'm not sure it will, it
depends on quite a few things, But it could happen. And if it happens, It might open up the ending of
the Israeli Islamic conflict. Remember, the Arab world is a small part. It's an important part,
but there are large Islamic populations and
could bring about an end To an historic enmity
between Islam and Judaism. It could be a great thing. So I'm looking at this larger thing now, You can be hobbled by saying, oh, well,

You've had this hiccup in Gaza, Or this or that thing happening In the Palestinians. It's important for us
because we want security, But I think the larger question is, Can we break out into a much wider peace And ultimately come
back and make the peace Between Israel and the Palestinians, Rather than waiting to solve that And never getting to paint
on the larger canvas. I want to paint on the larger canvas And come back to the
Palestinian Israeli conflict. – As you write about in your book, What have you learned about
life from your father? – My father was a great historian, He taught me several things. He said that the first
condition for a living organism Is to identify danger in time, Because if you don't,
you could be devoured. You could be destroyed very quickly. And that's the nature of human conflict. In fact, for the Jewish people, We lost the capacity to
identify danger in time, And we were almost devoured and destroyed By the Nazi threat. So when I see somebody
parroting the Nazi goal Of destroying the Jewish state, I try to mobilize the
country and the world in time Because I think Iran is a global threat, Not only a threat to Israel,
that's the first thing. The second thing is I once asked him, Before I got elected, I said, well, What do you think is the
most important quality For a prime minister of Israel?

And he came back with a
question, what do you think? And I said, well, you have to have vision And you have to have the
flexibility of navigating And working towards that vision. Be flexible, but understand
where you're heading. And he said, well, you
need that for anything. You need it for, if you're
a university president Or if you're a leader of
a corporation or anything, Anybody would've to have that. I said, all right, so what do you need To the leader of Israel? He said, he came back to me
with a word that stunned me. He said, education, you need
a broad and deep education, Or you'll be at the mercy of your clerks Or the press or whatever. You have to be able to do that. As I spend time in
government being reelected By the people of Israel, I recognize more and
more how right he was, You need to constantly ask yourself, Where's the direction we
want to take the country? How do we achieve that goal? But also understand that new
disciplines are being added. You have to learn all the time. You have to learn all the time. You have to add to your
intellectual capital all the time. Kissinger said that, He wrote that once you enter public life, You begin to draw on your
intellectual capital. And it'll be depleted very
quickly if you stay a long time. I disagree with that, I
think you have to constantly, Constantly increase your
understanding of things As they change. Because my father was right,

You need to broaden and
deepen your education As you go along, You can't just sit back and say, well, I studied some things in
university or in college, Or in Boston or at MIT and that's enough, I've done it, no, learn,
learn, learn, learn, learn, Never stop. – And if I may suggest,
as part of the education, I would add in a little literature, Maybe Dostoevsky in the plentiful of time You have as a prime minister to read. – Well I read him, but I'll tell you What I think is bigger than Dostoevsky. – Oh, no, who's that? – Not who's that, but what's that? Dan came to see me with his
grandson a few years ago, And he asked me, the grandson asked me, He was a student in an Ivy
League college, and he said, He's 18 years old, He wants to study to enter politics. And he said, what's the
most important thing That I have to study to
enter a political life? And I said, you have three
things you have to study. Okay? History, history and history. That's the fundamental
discipline for political life. But then you have to study
other things, study economics, Study politics and so on
and study the military. I had an advantage because
I spent some years there. So I learned a lot of that, But I had to acquire
the other disciplines. And you never acquire enough. So read, read, read. And by the way, if I have to choose,

I read history, history and history. Good works of history, not lousy books. – Last question. You've talked about a
survival of a nation. You yourself are a mortal being. Do you contemplate your mortality? Do you contemplate your death,
are you afraid of death? – Aren't you? – [Lex] Yes. – Who is not? I mean, if you're conscience, If you're being with conscience, I mean, One of the unhappy things
about the human brain Is that it can contemplate its own demise. And so we have to, we all make
our compromises with this. But I think the question is what lives on, What lives on beyond us? And I think that you have to define How much of posterity do
you want to influence? I cannot influence the course of humanity. We are specks, little specks. So that's not the issue, but in my case, I've devoted my life to
a very defined purpose. And that is to assure
the future and security, I would say permanence. But that is obviously a limited thing Of the Jewish state and the Jewish people. I don't think one can
exist without the other. So I've devoted my life
to that, and I hope that In my time on this earth
and in my years in office, I'd have contributed to that. – Well, you had one heck of a life Starting from MIT to six
terms as Prime Minister. Thank you for this stroll
through human history

And for this conversation,
it was an honor. – Thank you, and I hope you
come back to Israel many times. Remember, it's the innovation nation. It's a robust democracy. Don't believe all the stuff
that you are being told. It'll remain that it
cannot be any other way. And I'll tell you the other thing. It's the best ally of the United States, And its importance is growing by the day. Because our capacities
in the information world Are growing by the day. We need a coalition of
the like-minded smarts. This is a smart nation. And we share the basic values of freedom And liberty with the United States. So coalition of the smarts means Israel Is the sixth eye and
America has no better ally. – All right, now off mic, I'm gonna force you to finally
tell me who was gonna win. Elon Musk or Mark Zuckerberg. But t's a good time to end, We ran out of time here. – I'll tell you outside. – Thanks for listening
to this conversation With Benjamin Netanyahu. To support this podcast, Please check out our
sponsors in the description. And now let me leave you with some words From Mahatma Gandhi. "An eye for an eye will only
make the whole world blind." Thank you for listening and
hope to see you next time.

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