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Netanyahu Talks Candidly About Mideast Conflict, Relationship With U.S.

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," May 24, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was on Capitol Hill today. He addressed a packed House chamber before a special joint meeting of Congress. And moments before his historic speech, right after that, I sat down with him in Washington. And you're going to see that interview just moments from now.

But first, let's take a look at some of the highlights from his speech from earlier today.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: In an unstable Middle East, Israel is the one anchor of stability. In a region of shifting alliances, Israel is America's unwavering ally. Israel has always been pro-American. Israel will always be pro-American.


You don't need to do nation building in Israel. We are already built.


You don't need to export democracy to Israel. We've already got it.


And you don't need to send American troops to Israel. We defend ourselves!



HANNITY: And today in a cable exclusive interview, I asked the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about that speech and much, much more. Let's take a look.


HANNITY: Mr. Prime Minister, welcome back sir, it's an honor to have you.

NETANYAHU: Good to see you, Sean.

HANNITY: I appreciate you being here.

Just prior to your arrival, the president gave a speech and talked about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It made a lot of news and in the speech he said, the U.S. believes a negotiations should result in two states with permanent Palestinian borders with Israel, Jordan, Egypt and then he said the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps so that secure and recognized borders are established for bottle states. It caused a bit of an uproar.

NETANYAHU: Well, I was very happy to hear the president add the other side of the coin. He said, there will be no return to the June 4th, 1967 lines. And I agree with that obviously because I think those lines are indefensible. Israel would only be nine miles wide, that is kind of hard to defend. You know, that's half the width of the Washington Beltway. I was in the Capitol today. It's the width from the Capitol building to Bethesda.


NETANYAHU: Yes, just imagine America compressed to half the Washington Beltway. We won't be able to defend ourselves. So, I said that we would have to maintain a permanent Israeli presence along the Jordan River. And I think there's agreement between Israel and United States, that Israel must have defensible borders. Because in our part of the world, there's a simple truth, a peace you can't defend is a peace that will not hold.

HANNITY: Things changed pretty dramatically though in the course of the time that you've been here. The president went into great detail in his APEC speech to clarify those remarks. What did that mean to you, when he clarified it?

NETANYAHU: Well, you know, we talked about that in our conversation too, and I was glad -- in the lunch that we had, too. I think it was important. Because it reassures Israel that we'll have a defensible peace, a realistic peace. And I think also that the fact that he said that peace will only be negotiated between the parties. It's not going to be imposed by the U.N., the U.N. can decide anything. The U.N. can decide that the sun revolves around the Earth and that both are flat discs. It could actually do that. They pass these outrageous resolutions.

PHOTOS: View pictures from Sean's interview

So, when the president said, that's not going to happen, and that's not going to succeed in the Security Council, because they will block it, and because peace has to be negotiated. So, a negotiated peace in which the Palestinians recognize, finally recognize the Jewish state. And in which Israel has defensible boundaries, that's a good thing. I agree with that, obviously.

HANNITY: So, as this week has evolved, how would you describe your relationship with President Obama?

NETANYAHU: I think it is a very, very important and positive development and a positive relationship. We have a lot of things that don't meet the eye. People don't see it. The press loves to take differences we have, blow it up, you know, it is very attractive.

But I spent seven meetings with the president. That's a lot of hours. And we have so much more that we agree on than those areas that we disagree on. And there are things that people don't know. They don't know that Israeli-American security cooperation is at an all-time high.

We just -- I don't know if you know this, we had a revolutionary development in military history. We've had the support of the United States for Israeli technology to develop an anti-missile system. And we just intercepted in combat seven incoming rockets aimed at Israeli cities and they never got there. We intercepted them in mid-air.

Now, that's partly a result of the American support for Israel that has taken place now. I appreciate that. I think it is important with all the hoopla -- it is important to say these things. Because there's so much that binds Israel and the United States together. And I think it needs to be said.

HANNITY: So, could we say that there is a healthy understanding -- I watched the speech today, and 29 standing ovations. You got 10 good jokes in, and over 50 moments of applause. By any estimation, a very, very warm welcome from the United States Congress, a joint session of Congress. Would it be fair to say there's a healthy understanding with the White House and Congress, understanding Israel's security needs?

NETANYAHU: I think so. And I think also some basic principles. You know, Palestinian authority just embraced Hamas. Which I think is a tragedy. Hamas talks about destroying Israel. You know, just fired a missile deliberately, into -- a rocket, into a yellow school bus. They killed, you know, they killed a 16-year-old boy. In rockets, our cities and our civilians. It is keeping (INAUDIBLE) our captured soldier for five years without one visit from the Red Cross. It's a criminal organization committed to our destruction saying that they have a holy mandate to kill Jews everywhere. It's not a partner for peace.

So, the other thing that we agree on is that you can't negotiate with Hamas. You don't negotiate with people who want to kill you.

HANNITY: Let me get into this.

NETANYAHU: And I think that's another area of agreement that I think is important.

HANNITY: Let me ask you specifically, because Hamas' charter not only calls for the destruction of Israel but for the killing of Jews. You used the line in your speech today, when we say never again, we mean never again. How do you go into negotiations with a group whose charter calls for your destruction now that they are in a unity agreement with Fatah, with the Palestinians?

NETANYAHU: I don't. I will not. Neither would you. You would never enter negotiations with a government backed by Al Qaeda. And we won't go into negotiations with a government backed by the Palestinian version of Al Qaeda. And Hamas by the way, just condemned the United States for killing bin Laden whom they call a holy warrior. So, this is ridiculous, of course we can't do that. And I think there's agreement between the United States and Israel on this one. I don't think, I know that. So, I think that's important.

Now, if they break up the deal, you know, they don't consummate the union, the deal phrase, then we can go back and negotiate the peace. And you know what is required for the peace to be negotiated? Other than Israel having the deal to be completed, assuming they get rid of Hamas? It's not only mutual recognition and security, it is really a simple formulation that the Palestinian president has to say.

You know, two years ago, I stood before my people and I said, six simple words, and it wasn't easy for me. I said, I will recognize a Palestinian state. It wasn't easy for me, because we are talking about parts of our homeland, the land of Israel. And we have enormous attachment to it for 4,000 years, the land of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, Solomon, everything. But I said it.

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