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Netanyahu says Palestinians want a state without Jews

| Friday, Sept. 9, 2016, 7:57 p.m.
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is pictured during a news conference at his office in Jerusalem December 2, 2014. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sacked his finance and justice ministers on Tuesday, signalling the break up of his bickering coalition and opening the way for early national elections in Israel. REUTERS/Gali Tibbon/Pool (JERUSALEM - Tags: POLITICS TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
REUTERS
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is pictured during a news conference at his office in Jerusalem December 2, 2014. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sacked his finance and justice ministers on Tuesday, signalling the break up of his bickering coalition and opening the way for early national elections in Israel. REUTERS/Gali Tibbon/Pool (JERUSALEM - Tags: POLITICS TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)

JERUSALEM — Israel's prime minister rejected international criticism of West Bank settlement construction on Friday, equating it to “ethnic cleansing” of Jews and insisting the settlements are not an obstacle to peace, in a video that drew a rare rebuke from the United States.

Israel has been widely criticized, including by its close ally the U.S., for building settlements in territories captured in the 1967 Mideast war, land the Palestinians want as part of their future state.

Benjamin Netanyahu said in a video posted online that he has “always been perplexed” by claims that Israeli settlement building is “an obstacle to peace.”

He pointed to Israel's Arab minority, which enjoys citizenship and voting rights but often faces discrimination in housing and employment.

“No one would seriously claim that the nearly 2 million Arabs living inside Israel, that they're an obstacle to peace,” Netanyahu said. “Yet the Palestinian leadership actually demands a Palestinian state with one precondition: No Jews. There's a phrase for that: It's called ethnic cleansing.”

“It's even more outrageous that the world doesn't find this outrageous,” he added. “Since when is bigotry a foundation for peace?”

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