Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flew to the United States overnight Monday for an eight-day visit, during which he will meet US President Joe Biden in New York on Wednesday and speak at the United Nations General Assembly two days later.
Before his departure, Netanyahu addressed the expected protests against him in the U.S., criticizing them as well-funded and organized and crossing all boundaries.
"They have made roadblocks seem normal, harassment and violence against public figures seem apparently normal, and refusal [to follow rules or laws] seem normal. So when they go and defame Israel in front of the nations, that also seems normal to them. To me, it's not normal. When I was the leader of the opposition, I never did such a thing," he said.
Before his departure, Netanyahu addressed the expected protests against him in the U.S., saying, "Nothing surprises me. The people organizing these protests are well-funded. These are financed and organized demonstrations that cross all boundaries. They have normalized roadblocks, apparently normalized harassment and violence against public figures, and disobedience seems normal to them. So when they go out and tarnish Israel's reputation in front of the nations, that also appears normal to them. To me, it's not normal. When I was the head of the opposition, I never did such a thing."
Despite his words, during his time as the leader of the opposition, Netanyahu was accused by then-coalition leaders of disseminating videos in English against Israel and "behaving like our worst enemy."
According to Netanyahu, "I think this is the 12th time I'm going to speak at the UN as prime minister. There have always been protests both for and against Israel. But this time, we're seeing protests against Israel led by people who team up with the PLO, Iran and others. Nothing is surprising anymore, but that won't stop me from representing Israel proudly and in the best way possible for all its citizens."
In response to a question from Ynet about whether he is disappointed that he won't be meeting with Biden at the White House, the prime minister replied: "What's important is what will be discussed, not the location."
"I am now leaving for the UN General Assembly where I will represent Israel before the nations of the world. I will also meet with many world leaders, especially President Biden, with whom I will discuss – first and foremost, but among other topics – Iran and expanding the circle of peace. I will also meet with the German Chancellor, the President of Ukraine, the President of Turkey, and many additional leaders from Asia, Europe and Africa,” he said on the tarmac at Ben Gurion Airport.
“Today, the world is seeing – and I will certainly emphasize this – that Iran is violating all of its commitments, that it brazenly lies, and that it intends both to develop nuclear weapons and continue its aggression in the region. We will confront both of these together. I heard the threats from an official of the Iranian regime today; I suggest that he not threaten us. He and this regime need to know that we will respond forcefully to any attack on our people and our citizens.”
Netanyahu will start his visit in California where he will meet with Elon Musk to discuss artificial intelligence and investment in Israel in the coming years.