It takes a leader like Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to make peace, Diaspora
Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein, the only Likud minister who lives in the West
Bank, told attendees at Wednesday’s Jerusalem Post debate at the Jerusalem Great
Well over a thousand people attended the debate, which was
cosponsored by the synagogue and the Association of Americans and Canadians in
The debate pitted Edelstein against Bayit Yehudi leader
Naftali Bennett, Labor MK Isaac Herzog, Strong Israel MK Arieh Eldad, and
representatives from four other parties.
“We want to make peace, but we
are not selling dreams,” Edelstein said.
“If peace comes, it will be
under a leader like Netanyahu in a formula like [the late US president Ronald]
Reagan talked about, peace from strength. Appeasement won’t
Edelstein said he heard people saying they want Netanyahu to be
prime minister, but did not know who to vote for. He said that because Netanyahu
cannot become prime minister by winning a tender, voters needed to back Likud
Beytenu and not satellite parties.
Bennett said voters should instead
strengthen Netanyahu by voting for Bayit Yehudi. He received applause from the
predominantly right-wing crowd for saying that his party vehemently opposed a
Palestinian state, and questionable looks for calling for human rights for Arab
residents of Israel.
Herzog criticized the crowd for clapping for Eldad
saying Jordan is the Palestinian state.
“You have no clue about the
regional consequences of that,” Herzog said.
Labor’s No. 2 candidate,
Herzog, said Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas had made many
mistakes, including refusing to negotiate with Netanyahu, which he said
strengthened the prime minister’s case, and made things more difficult, but he
cautioned against giving up hope that a peace agreement could be
“If we don’t reach a deal and be proactive, we could lose
settlement blocs like Gush Etzion, which is dear to my heart,” Herzog said.
Netanyahu for supporting a two-state solution and Bennett for wanting to join a
government that would negotiate the formation of a Palestinian
“You won’t find me in such a government,” Eldad
Meretz representative Laura Wharton accused Bennett of giving
incorrect figures about the number of Palestinians.
On matters of
religion and state, she said it was a tragedy that 10,000 Israeli couples get
married abroad annually.
Yesh Atid candidate Dov Lipman said “Israel
should not separate religion from state, but we should separate religion from
He asked for applause for Netanyahu for endorsing Yesh Atid’s
plan for drafting yeshiva students.
Regarding the environment, Tzipi
Livni Party candidate Alon Tal called for more usage of, and incentives for
solar power and other alternative energy.
On the socioeconomic gap, Shas
representative Menahem Shem Tov said “We have two states: One in Caesarea, one
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