Netanyahu rejects criticism from the right that he folded on the issue of a Palestinian state.
By Elad Benari, INN
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told the Israel Hayom newspaper in an interview published on Thursday that a move to apply Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria and the Jordan Valley would be historical, dismissing criticism from the oppositional right that he folded on the issue of a Palestinian state.
“For the first time since the establishment of the state, I’ve managed to secure American recognition [of our sovereignty rights], first on the Golan Heights and in Jerusalem, and then through an agreement that will facilitate American recognition in the areas of our homeland inside Judea and Samaria. These are [US President Donald] Trump’s decisions, and the person who broached these matters with him was me. No one else,” said Netanyahu.
Asked about the argument from the oppositional right that a Palestinian state is hidden in Trump’s package, Netanyahu replied, “Within this package is a historic opportunity for changing the tide of history, which was pointing one way. The whole time. All the diplomatic plans proposed to us in the past asked us to concede swathes of the Land of Israel, return to the 1967 borders and divide Jerusalem. To take in [Palestinian] refugees. This is a reversal. We aren’t the ones being forced to make concessions, rather the Palestinians are. Regardless of negotiations.”
“If they see fit to meet and accept about 10 stringent conditions – including Israeli sovereignty west of the Jordan River, preserving a united Jerusalem, refusing to accept refugees, not uprooting Jewish communities, and Israeli sovereignty in large swathes of Judea and Samaria, etc. – the [diplomatic] process will move ahead,” he added.
“They need to acknowledge that we control security in all areas. If they consent to all this, then they will have an entity of their own that President Trump defines as a state. There are those who claim and – an American statesman told me: ‘But Bibi, it won’t be a state.’ I told him, call it what you want. At the heart of the Trump plan are foundations we have only dreamed about. All the things we are being criticized about from the right – and what am I? These are things for which we fought for many long years and we’ve finally achieved them. Then they come with the criticism.”
Netanyahu stressed that the several thousand Palestinian Arabs who reside in the Jordan Valley would not receive Israeli citizenship under the plan.
“No. They will remain a Palestinian enclave. You’re not annexing Jericho. There’s a cluster or two. You don’t need to apply sovereignty over them, they will remain Palestinian subjects if you will. But security control also applies to these places,” he explained.
Asked whether he is concerned that the sovereignty move will lead to Israel facing lawsuits at the International Criminal Court at The Hague, the Prime Minister replied, “Yes, but the court at The Hague has already decided we are guilty of war crimes. We are defending our homeland, but the soldiers, leaders, and clerks are guilty of war crimes because we dare build homes in Gilo or Beit El. It’s absurd. It’s a fixed game from the outset.
“We will have to fight this simultaneously to fighting the coronavirus, and all while also fighting against Iranian attempts to develop a nuclear weapon. Simultaneously to applying sovereignty, we will have to fight against the challenge posed by the ICC. We must confront these outrageous allegations wisely and adamantly,” he added.
The coalition agreement between Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz, which stipulates that the government can apply sovereignty over Judea and Samaria this coming July, has caused an uproar in the Arab world.
In response to the planned move, Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas announced last week that the PA was no longer bound by the agreements it signed with Israel and the US, including the security coordination with Israel.
PA leaders are looking to form an international coalition to block the Israeli sovereignty bid, according to reports on Wednesday.
Jordanian Prime Minister Omar al-Razzaz last week threatened that the kingdom would review its relationship with Israel if the Jewish state goes ahead with the sovereignty move.
“We will not accept unilateral Israeli moves to annex Palestinian lands and we would be forced to review all aspects of our relations with Israel,” said Razzaz, who accused Israel of taking advantage of the world being “distracted” by the coronavirus crisis to implement “unilateral moves on the ground”.
Razzaz’s comments came days after Jordan’s King Abdullah II warned that if Israel goes through with the sovereignty move, “it would lead to a massive conflict with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan”.
King Abdullah told German magazine Der Spiegel that “I don’t want to make threats and create a loggerheads atmosphere, but we are considering all options.”