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Netanyahu an ‘obstacle’ to two-state solution

Former Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi has said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is an obstacle to a two-state solution and should resign.

Speaking to RTÉ’s Six One News during a visit to Ireland, Ms Pelosi described the 7 October attacks as an act of cruel brutality and said the number of people who have since died in Gaza was “too many”.

She said a recent US vote on Israeli aid would not have happened without humanitarian assistance to the people of Palestine being included in the bill.

“The United States has always supported Israel as our friend because it has been in our national security interest to do so,” she said.

“We recognise Israel’s right to protect itself. We reject the policy and practice of Netanyahu – terrible. What could be worse than what he has done in response?”

Noting the resignation of IDF Commander Major General Aharon Haliva, Ms Pelosi said Mr Netanyahu should also resign.

There had been a block to peace for years, she said, adding that she did not know whether Mr Netanyahu was afraid of peace, incapable of peace or simply “doesn’t want peace”.

She described him as being an obstacle to the two-state solution.

“The biggest advocate for humanitarian assistance to the Palestinians has been Joe Biden, he’s the only one advocating at that level,” she said.

Ms Pelosi said Republicans in the US House of Congress had been against any assistance for Palestinians.

She said that while it took longer than expected she was glad that the job was now done, adding that the credit should go to Speaker Mike Johnson and that it took courage to take the steps that he did.

She described Hamas as a terrorist organisation and said they were intent on the destruction of the State of Israel and were resisting a ceasefire.

When asked about a move by some EU members to recognise the State of Palestine, Ms Pelosi said: “I don’t know what state they would be recognising – a Hamas-ruling state or the Abbas Palestinian authority?”

Nancy Pelosi speaking to RTÉ’s Áine Lawlor

‘Democracy is at stake’

Ms Pelosi told RTÉ News that the result of the upcoming US election would be decided by the people and that they should ask themselves if they want to save the planet, the US Constitution, democracy and personal liberties like abortion and LGBTQ rights, as well as protect children from gun violence.

“That’s really what’s on that ballot paper in addition to those two names,” she said.

“Democracy is at stake… Civilisation as we know it today is at stake in that election, should the other side prevail.”

She said it would be an interesting time, adding that the Democrats had “made a decision to win”.

She said she had the highest regard for current President Joe Biden and that the US was fortunate to have him.

“Experience brings you wisdom. This is a person with a great vision for America – of fairness, justice and inclusiveness,” she said.

“A great knowledge of the issues… Vision, knowledge and judgement, strategic in his thinking, legislative genius… A great record… Empathy in his heart for the American people.”

This would come across in the Biden campaign, she said, but people would have to make a judgement on that, whether they choose Mr Trump or a values-based, knowledgeable and principled proven President of the US, which she said was Mr Biden.

Regarding Mr Trump’s legal cases, Ms Pelosi said it was a “wait and see situation” but that the founding fathers of the US would not have created impeachment principles if they did not want them to be used.

She said time would tell if the US has a “rogue supreme court”, adding that she was curious to see how fast the process would be from here and that it had not been fast to date.

Asked about her own personal safety on 6 January 2021 during the Capitol riots, Ms Pelosi said she would wait and see how the case plays out in court, but from a personal standpoint, she said that on that day she had the best understanding of anybody about how low Donald Trump would go.

“I knew we had to remain calm through it all, we had to win and we had to prevail even though he would not send the National Guard, as much as he lies about that,” she said.

She said the danger to people in elected office at home or abroad is something that “has no place in our democracy”.

Mr Trump had normalised that and given support to it, she said, which was “just plain wrong”.

Ms Pelosi said that while the Republican Party had done great things for the United States, it needed to be taken back and should not be “putting up with this cult”.

Republicans should be speaking out against violence against elected officials, she said.

“We are trying to draw young people, more diverse populations into the electoral process… Talking to young women with children, it can be scary,” she said.

“We have to put a stop to violent protest, violent expression of disagreement.”

Ms Pelosi said the Democrats want to unify people rather than fan the flames of difference, and do so through policy rather than patriotically.

“We love America, that’s what we’ve always had in common – until now,” she said.

Ms Pelosi said women were “breaking the line” formed by men and she would expect to see a female president of the United States during her lifetime.

Cruelty of Russia

Ms Pelosi said she “saw the danger” and cruelty of Russia during a visit to Ukraine two years ago, as well as the courage of the Ukrainian people.

“I have no doubt that with the resources now, the prospect for success – hopefully this year – will be fulfilled,” she said.

She said she had no doubt that Russian President Vladimir Putin would go anywhere he wants to in Europe to invade or escalate his efforts.

“The other countries that border Ukraine, whether they are in NATO or not, are concerned about the aggression of Russia and the ambition of Putin,” she said.

Ms Pelosi said she was “very pleased” that the US House passed bills to aid Ukraine.

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