Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu doesn’t think he’s wrong to compare Hamas with the terrorist group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
“I didn’t say that Hamas and ISIS are twins, I said they are brothers,” Netanyahu told Fusion’s Jorge Ramos on Wednesday. “They’re branches … of the same poisonous tree of militant Islam.”
Netanyahu initially made his remarks linking the two groups at the United Nations General Assembly on Monday. The U.S. State Department disagreed with the Israeli leader’s characterization of Islamic extremist groups, saying that Hamas and ISIS pose different types of threats to Israel and the West.
“They both share a fanatic ideology of first getting these enclaves, militant Islam, and expanding them through terror—in an effort to dominate the world,” Netanyahu said. “They also share the same fanatic methods. They’re very similar though not identical.”
The Israeli prime minister showed Ramos a photograph of what he said was a Hamas execution of Palestinian civilians.
“ISIS beheads people. And Hamas puts a bullet in the back of their heads. But to the victims and to their families, the horror is the same,” Netanyahu said.
The prime minister said militant groups share common goals, but suffer from infighting. “They all agree that there should be an Islamist-ruled order but disagree on who among them would be the master of that ruled order.”
“I take it as absurd. I mean, Israel was targeted by these terrorists, by these Hamas terrorists, firing thousands of rockets into Israel cities, targeting our cities,” he said.
Netanyahu suggested there would be a strong reaction if “you have thousands of rockets falling on New York, falling on Washington, falling on Los Angeles, Miami, you name it.”
Ramos asked Netanyahu whether he’s concerned about Israel’s standing with young American Jews. Support for Israel remains strong among U.S. Jews, but according to a 2013 Pew survey, Jews between the ages of 18 and 29 are the most likely to say Israel is not making a sincere effort to make peace with the Palestinians.
The Fusion anchor referenced a Beyonce-inspired social media campaign by the liberal Israel advocacy group J Street, which encouraged supporters to tell Netanyahu, “If you like it, you should put a border on it.”
“You’ve never been compared to Beyonce, I’m sure,” Ramos said.
“Well, there are a few differences you know,” Netanyahu responded.
“Every Israeli government would ask a simple question: what’s beyond the border?” the Israeli leader added. “No Israeli government would offer a border if there is a state there, a Palestinian state that is like Syria, that is like Gaza, that seeks to have our destruction and uses the area that we vacate … to attack us.
“To ask Israel to do one and not ask the Palestinians to do the other—which is essentially what I’m being asked to do—is neither fair or sensible,” he said.