Netanyahu Clarifies Parameters for Future Negotiations
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave an interview with Army Radio in which he said, “In any peace agreement we [Israel] will have to maintain military control of all the territory west of the Jordan River. This is the truth and I will continue saying this truth.” The interview came amidst speculation about plans for the resumption of negotiations following the recent visit to Israel of US President Donald Trump.
“Why is there no peace?” the premier asked rhetorically. “It is not because of the territories or the settlements. For about 50 years, from 1920 until 1967, we did not hold the territories or have any settlements and they wanted to throw us out of Tel Aviv. When we left Gaza – they wanted to throw us out of Tel Aviv. Also today, when I ask the Palestinian Authority [leadership] if we were to agree to all your demands would you relinquish your demand for the right of return of Palestinians to Jaffa… They sit in their chair and refuse to answer the question.
“The root cause of the conflict was and still is the refusal of the Palestinians to recognize the State of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish People under any borders,” Netanyahu said. “The moment we will point to this issue and demand a real change in this way of thinking, only than is there a hope for a real peace. You cannot build a peace on the basis of a lie,” the premier added.
The comments came one day after Netanyahu told a meeting of the Likud faction leadership attempting to curb the enthusiasm of other members who have urged a more forceful pushback against Palestinian demands in the wake of the recent visit to Israel by US President Donald Trump. During his remarks, he declared, among other things, that although the Trump Administration shows great warmth and understanding for Israel’s positions, this does not add up to a “diplomatic blank check” that Israel can use to do whatever it wants.
“The public should know that we received last week 75 million dollars from the Trump administration but know that there is no such thing as innocent gifts,” the prime minister added. “The president said some important things and we congratulate him for that but he also said that he wants a deal, and that Abu Mazen [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas] wants a deal too. It’s important to know that Trump wants a deal, and it comes at a price.”
In related news, a report in the US media which said Trump shouted at Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during his visit with him in Bethlehem last week was flatly denied on Monday by PA official Ahmad Majdalani, who told the Jerusalem Post the report was “a total fabrication and a lie.”
“The talks we have had with the American administration have been based on mutual respect,” Majdalani added. “They have been positive, and we are feeling a major development in the American administration’s position.”
Trump is reported to have shouted at Abbas during their meeting, “You deceived me in Washington! You spoke to me about peace, but the Israelis showed me that you personally have a hand in incitement.”