MK Knesset Aryeh Eldad (National Union) has no illusions about the upcoming talks between Israel and the Palestinians. He spoke frankly about these talks with Israel National News in an exclusive interview Sunday.
INN: What is your opinion of the upcoming talks?
MK Eldad: I think that Netanyahu put himself into a trap when he insisted on direct talks with the Palestinians. These are talks about everything, as was defined by the people invited to participate in them. These are talks about Jerusalem, about the demand to return refugees, about borders–everything. Even if Netanyahu was the strongest man on earth, which he is not, he is trapped. He is bound by some of his predecessors’ commitments on previous talks.
They [the PA] will not start with him from the beginning, but rather with the Camp David agreement, with the Clinton plan, with what Olmert offered Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] in their direct talks. He is far beyond everything that the people who voted for him wanted him to be. So he is starting these direct talks in a very bad position, and I am sure that not only is he wrong in his claim that there will be no preconditions, but rather also the opposite; Obama and Clinton are making all efforts to have the talks begin with a de facto freeze on building in Judea and Samaria.
INN: Will the talks succeed in making the building freezes continue?:
MK Eldad: I think that Netanyahu will face and accept the demand to continue the building freeze. He will continue with no building in Jerusalem, which he has done from the first moment he was elected as Prime Minister. He did not build a single house in Jerusalem since elected, he did not hire a single contractor to build in Jerusalem, and he is doing nothing in Judea and Samaria either.
INN: Why are you so sure that Netanyahu won’t stand strong?
MK Eldad: There are early signs for the collapse of Netanyahu. He has agreed to give land for the very acceptance of the Palestinians to sit with him. The ticket price he paid for direct talks was his agreement to build the road to a new Palestinian city called Roabi, near Ramallah. Netanyahu already promised that if they [the PA] would come to direct negotiations, then at the beginning of the talks, he will pass a decision in the Cabinet about changing the status of the land on which the Arabs want to build the road to this city. This he promised to the Americans and Palestinians. And it is amazing that he thinks he can give up the Land of Israel without the decision of the Knesset, not to mention any large-scale national referendum. To imagine that he will give land just for the agreement to talk to him.
These are early signs that Netanyahu is very, very weak and that he can’t take a stand on points that he defines as major points for Israel. Once he said “no” to a Palestinian state, now he says “yes” to a Palestinian state. Once he said Jews can always build, now he says Jews cannot build. Once he said Israel will hold onto the Jordan valley, now he says he will accept an international body there. This is a total collapse.
All this will happen unless the Arabs will save us from our own Prime Minister, by breaking off from the talks, by not accepting the offer to go back to ’67 borders, and to give them a capital in Jerusalem.
INN: Isn’t Netanyahu better than the alternatives, Kadima and Labor?
MK Eldad: If you want to discover the differences between Likud, Kadima, and Labor, you need an electron microscope. There are no differences, it’s all in the rhetoric. Once Netanyahu is at the discussion table, his rhetoric won’t help him and he’s going to give up everything.
INN: What can the Israeli public do to stop these things from happening?
MK Eldad: The public in Israel can demand from their representatives in the Likud, Shas, Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home), and Yisrael Beteinu (Israel Our Home), to remain faithful to their election promises. They were not elected to build a Palestinian state; they were alected to prevent one from rising. The ministers will not rebel against Netanyahu unless the public demands it. This is the duty of the public of Israel.
We have a Knesset Lobby for the Land of Israel comprising 41 Members of Knesset, and we can draw a very red line to Netanyahu and explain to him that he won’t be able to pass any decision without losing his government. But if we want to trust every one of the 41 MKs, we need public pressure on them that they will remain faithful to the Land of Israel lobby. Public pressure is needed on Netanyahu and all the MKs and Ministers, who in their term will have to prevent a Palestinian state from becoming a reality.
INN: Many Jews, especially American Jews believed that Netanayu was different, stronger than other Israeli leaders. What happened to him?
MK Eldad: Nothing happened to Netanyahu; he was always very weak. He could speak very nicely but he could perform nothing. On political issues with the Palestinians, he is one of the weakest Prime Ministers we ever had.
Ehud Olmert talked to the Palestinians very nicely but gave them nothing in the end. Netanyanu has talked tough but is offering them a lot. Netanyahu was always good on theory, but always fails on the practical test. Land for Talks – that is what he is going to do. People still trust his image and not his real performance. They are going to be deeply disappointed.
Netanyahu was elected to prevent the creation of the Palestinian state, to produce something utterly different. But right away, he collapsed under pressure from Obama and declared his support for a Palestinian state. This is a complete collapse.