Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett called upon Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Sunday to rule out letting Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria come under Palestinian control.
An official in Netanyahu’s office was quoted as saying that the prime minister believes that residents of Judea and Samaria should be allowed to remain in a Palestinian state.
“The idea of Jewish settlements under Palestinian sovereignty, as was suggested by someone in the Prime Minister’s Office, is very dangerous and reflects a loss of marbles and values,” Bennett said.
“We did not return to the Land of Israel, after 2,000 years of longing, to live under the government of [President] Mahmoud Abbas.
“Whoever advocates for the idea of Jewish life in Israel under Palestinian rule is undermining our ability to sit in Tel Aviv.”
Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon vowed not to abandon the Jews who live over the Green Line to Israel’s enemies.
“I would not wish for my worst enemy to live under Palestinian sovereignty,” Danon said. “Whoever thinks Jews can live under Palestinian control should visit the Gaza Strip. There cannot be security for Jews in areas that are not under IDF control.”
Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin said that “only someone deluded enough to believe the lion is ready to lie with the lamb could abandon hundreds of thousands of people to the mercy of those who enabled the lynching in Ramallah.”
He said that whoever was giving Netanyahu such advice was trying to cause problems for him in Likud.
The responses followed Netanyahu’s remark in Davos on Friday that he had no intention of evacuating any settlements or uprooting any Israelis as part of a future agreement with the Palestinians.
Government officials made clear Sunday that Netanyahu has never talked about physically uprooting settlements and their inhabitants from the West Bank, as was done in Gaza in 2005. Rather, he has spoken of the possibility of Jews wanting to live in those settlements being able to do so if they wish.
One official said Netanyahu’s position is that if there is an Arab minority inside Israel, there is no reason why there cannot be a Jewish minority in a future Palestinian state, if those Jews wish to remain there.
One senior government official told The Jerusalem Post some three years ago that a good sign of whether the Palestinians would be able to live in peace next to a Jewish state would be if they would be willing to allow a minority of Jews to live among them.
Earlier Sunday, Likud MKs took credit for Netanyahu’s hawkish statements in Davos.
“It’s an important statement but the battle is clearly not over,” Danon said. “Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched. We can’t be caught asleep. We have learned that we can’t afford to be complacent. We still don’t know what is in the American document, so we cannot declare victory.”
Deputy Transportation Minister Tzipi Hotovely said she could not be relaxed because US Secretary of State John Kerry was planning to push Israel to withdraw from large portions of Judea and Samaria.
“We might not have a reason to fight him, but we won’t sit silently,” she said.
MK Moshe Feiglin said: “The news made me happy, but I am still worried. Conducting negotiations loses our legitimacy for retaining sovereignty over our land. Begin promised to live in Sinai and Sharon said the fate of Netzarim would be the same as Tel Aviv. With politicians what matters is what they do, not what they say.”
Jerusalem Post Annual Conference. Buy it now, Special offer. Come meet Israel's top leaders