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Netanyahu: 'No more than 15 minutes' of Trump talks spent on Palestinian issue

President Donald Trump meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office of the White House, Monday, March 5, 2018, in Washington.
(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Netanyahu said he has not seen the much anticipated US peace plan, cannot say if one exists or not

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he and US President Donald Trump “didn’t spend more than 15 minutes” discussing the conflict with the Palestinians during closed-door talks at the White House on Tuesday. Instead, he said, the conversation focused on “Iran, Iran, Iran.”

“We also spoke about Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinians. Around half the time about Iran, maybe even a little more, and the second half on the rest of these issues. We didn’t spend more than 15 minutes of the conversation on the Palestinian issue,” Netanyahu told journalists during a briefing following his meeting with Trump.

Netanyahu also revealed that he is yet to see the Trump administration’s highly anticipated peace proposal.

“We did not see a draft of their peace plan. I cannot say on their behalf whether there is one or not. They will decide when to release it,” he said.

Netanyahu said that he told Trump he has no desire to govern the Palestinians. He stopped short of backing a two-state solution or Palestinian statehood, saying merely that “the Palestinians should have the power of government, except the power to threaten us.”

“I said that we have no desire to govern the Palestinians, but we have every desire to protect ourselves,” he said. “The main thing is that the security control west of the Jordan River remains in our hands, and we cannot see anyone else assuming that responsibility.”

Mandel NGAN (AFP)

Netanyahu also said that “the evacuation of settlements didn’t come up at all” during the course of their conversations.

“Iran, Iran and Iran was the main topic of the meeting,” Netanyahu said, adding that their conversation had run an hour longer than allotted.

Netanyahu said he thought Trump had shown “great interest” in his assessments of the Iran nuclear accord, which Trump has threatened to abandon if European co-signatories do not fix what he says are “disastrous flaws” in the agreement.

“The conversation lasted an hour longer than was allocated for it. A large part of it was devoted to this issue. I told him what I thought: That the nuclear agreement with Iran must be either totally fixed or totally canceled, and there were detailed discussions on this issue.”

Netanyahu said that he had raised the issue of Iran’s entrenchment in Syria, including its proliferation of precision missiles in the country which he called “a tangible threat to Israel.”

Netanyahu and Trump’s meeting on Monday was their fifth over the past year.

He is set to speak at the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference on Tuesday, where Iran is once again expected to take center stage.

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