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Radical Shiites, Sunnis: 'stark hatreds' seen in Middle East says Israeli PM

Pres. Barack Obama spoke about the deteriorating situation as Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants move toward Baghdad after taking control over northern Iraqi cities.
Pres. Barack Obama spoke about the deteriorating situation as Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants move toward Baghdad after taking control over northern Iraqi cities.
Photo by Pool/Getty Images

When your enemies are fighting each other, don't strengthen either one, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on a Sunday talk show today, warning American leaders and listeners against an alliance with Iran meant to save Iraq as it faces a blitzkrieg offensive from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The Prime Minister had much more to say as well. Speaking in an interview, Netanyahu told David Gregory on NBC's Meet the Press:

"There are no easy answers. But what you're seeing in the Middle East today, in Iraq and in Syria, is the stark hatreds between radical Shiites, in this case led by Iran, and radical Sunnis led by Al Qaeda and ISIS and others." He added this about the potential deaths of millions of people:

"Now, both of these camps are enemies of the United States. And when your enemies are fighting each other, don't strengthen either one of them; weaken both. And I think by far the worst outcome that could come out of this is that one of these factions, Iran, would come out with nuclear weapons capability. That would be a tragic mistake. It would make everything else pale in comparison. I think the ultimate and the most important goal in the Middle East is to make sure Iran does not have nuclear weapons capability--" [interruption by Greggory] "... --because those weapons, unlike mortars and machine guns that can kill thousands, and chemical weapons that kill tens of thousands, these weapons, nuclear weapons, could kill millions. That should be prevented at all cost."

HAMAS, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas

Gregory noted the abduction of three teens, one an American. "... you say there's evidence to say that it was Hamas, including an American teenager, an American citizen." He asked if the statement made by Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas, "... saying in Arabic this week to foreign ministers in the region, quote, 'The missing settlers in the West Bank are human beings like us. We must look for them and return them to their families,'" might be seen as "a significant step forward, a significant sign of military cooperation between the Palestinians and Israel, in [Netanyahu's]judgment?"

"I think it was good that he said that, and I think it would be tested now by his willingness to stop the incitement against Israel and the glorifications of terrorists. This would be a good departure towards that direction," the Prime Minister of Israel replied.

But it seems clear that American negotiations with Iran so far have caused great concern for the nation of Israel, which is a normal target for rocket fire and terrorist threats in the region. Most recently the kidnapping of three teenagers and a subsequent OperationBrother'sKeeper launched by the Israeli defense establishment, as noted by Gregory, continues. Missing are teens identified as Eyal Yifrach, 19, and 16-year-olds Gilad Shaar and Naftali Frenkel.

The stalled "peace talks" between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, was mentioned as well. Gregory asked about "... new pressure from some religious groups," and then named the Presbyterians in the United States which recently passed a decision to "divest its holdings in companies that do business with Israel, that sell parts to Israel that they claim are used in the course of the occupations of the Palestinians."

The Prime Minister stated:

"It should trouble all people of conscience and morality because it's so disgraceful. You know, you look at what's happening in the Middle East, and I think most Americans understand this: They see this enormous area riveted by religious hatred, by savagery of unimaginable proportions. Then you come to Israel and you see the one democracy that upholds basic human rights, that guards the rights of all minorities, that protects Christians. Christians are persecuted throughout the Middle East. "

'Most Americans understand'

Netanyahu believes that "... most Americans understand that Israel is a beacon of civilization and moderation," but he added this invitation to the Presbyterian organization and its members:

"You know, I would suggest to those Presbyterian organizations to fly to the Middle East, come see Israel for the embattled democracy that it is, and then take a bus tour. Go to Libya, go to Syria, go to Iraq, and see the difference. And I would give them two pieces of advice: One is make sure it's an armor-plated bus. And, second, don't say that you're Christians."

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