Speaking at a pre-Rosh Hashanah event for the heads of local authorities at Airport City, Netanyahu said that Israel was a “rising world power.”
“Our position in the international arena is getting stronger,” he said. “We are doing this not through concessions that endanger us, in order to be popular for a moment, but rather by doing the exact opposite – by standing up firmly for our security interests. People respect that.”
In comments that sounded as if elections were right around the corner, Netanyahu said he did not want to paint a false picture.
“I do not look at the world around us through rose-colored glasses,” he said. “We are still facing challenges: boycotts, unrelenting lawfare against us in international institutions – that all exists, but I am telling you that Israel is rising.”
Nevertheless, he said, Israel still faces numerous security challenges demanding huge budgets, because just as Israel is progressing, so are its enemies.
“I put security first, justifiably, and you understand that. We all understand this is the first responsibility of every government – but at the same time we don’t ignore domestic issues.”
Netanyahu said that Israel is the only Western state whose population is growing.
“This is very welcome,” he said. “This increases our Gross National Product, and that gives us the resources to deal with security.”
The prime minister said that despite the generous military assistance given by the US – Jerusalem and Washington signed a Memorandum of Understanding in 2016 guaranteeing $38 billion of military assistance over the next decade – 85% of the money for Israel’s enormous security budget comes from the domestic economy.
“Therefore we need a growing economy,” he added.