Any peace agreement with the Palestinians must include a long-term Israeli
presence along the Jordan River, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told a
visiting delegation of seven US congressman on Wednesday.
would protect Israel from the importation of terrorists from Jordan into a
Palestinians state, he said, reiterating something he has been talking about for
PM to meet US rep. threatening to block funds from PA
'Annexation for declaration' idea advancing in Knesset
He added a new element at Wednesday’s meeting, saying the IDF
would have to deploy an anti-missile defense system along the western border of
a Palestinian state, to protect Israel from the type of homemade rockets that
have been fired for years from Gaza at communities in the South.
published a story in December claiming that Netanyahu had told the Palestinians
that in addition to a presence in the Jordan Valley, Israel would want IDF
troops stationed along territory on the “Palestinian side” of the West Bank
security barrier, to protect the country’s “narrow waistline.”
It was not
made clear in his meeting with the congressmen where exactly he intended to
place the antimissile batteries. The prime minister thanked the delegation for
the recent approval of another $205 million for the Iron Dome anti-missile
During the meeting, Netanyahu also discussed apparent Palestinian
plans to ask the UN General Assembly in September for recognition of statehood,
saying that a strong American position against the move was necessary, and that
Washington should make it clear to the Palestinian Authority that it would only
achieve statehood through negotiations.
If that position was presented
strongly by the US, and received international support from “fair minded
countries,” then it could take the sting out of any negative UN resolution,
The expectation in Jerusalem is that if the US, which has
come out unequivocally against the move so far, stays on this course, then
countries in Europe and other parts of the world will follow suit.
by the US lawmakers what messages they should bring the Palestinians, with whom
they were to meet later in their visit, Netanyahu enumerated three: Meet and
negotiate with Israel; don’t go for unity with Hamas; and that they would lose
US support if they went “in the wrong direction.”
Netanyahu said he was troubled by some of the voices coming out of Cairo calling
for cancellation of the Israeli- Egyptian peace treaty. He told the delegation
it was incumbent upon the international community to express a clear expectation
that any Egyptian government honor the treaty.
Speaking with reporters
after the meeting, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), who sits on the
Senate’s Armed Services and Budget committees, sent a warning to Egypt regarding
its treaty with Israel.
Although he praised the Egyptian people who took
to the streets out of a desire for democracy and a better life, he said that
they would send the wrong message by then breaking a long-standing peace treaty
with a neighboring state.
“It would be a huge mistake for the Egyptian
people to go down that road in my view, and when it came to future American
assistance, it could be a fatal mistake,” Graham said.
Earlier this week
a poll by Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project showed that 54 percent
of Egyptians want to cancel the peace treaty with Israel.
percent said it should be maintained.
Netanyahu urged the delegation to
do everything in its power to provide assistance to the people of Egypt,
Tunisia, Jordan and other countries in the region experiencing unrest, Graham
said, adding, “I think he’s right.”
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Missouri) said
Wednesday’s attack on a gas pipeline in Sinai leading to Israel and Jordan was
“not a huge shock,” but that Egypt would “suffer if it loses the client base of
Israel as a customer.”
When asked about the US participation in the
Multinational Force and Observers peacekeeping force in Sinai, Sen. Kelly Ayotte
(R-New Hampshire) said that such observers could play a larger role in the
“I think these international observers have played a vital role
in the Sinai, and I would be asking, given the unrest and change happening in
the entire region, if there is a bigger role for such an organization as
observers to help with stabilization,” Ayotte said.
Commenting on the
Syrian crackdown on anti-regime protesters, Graham called for economic and
diplomatic sanctions and said the US should recall its ambassador from
He added, however, that “I don’t believe military action is on
the table at this point.”
With regard to Libya, Graham said the US needed
to give the rebels there more arms, training and logistical support, and should
use Predator drone aircraft to bring the war to a close.
“NATO lost a lot
of capability to help the opposition forces in Libya, so I would urge the
[Obama] administration to start using American aircraft. Predators being
injected into the fight will pay dividends,” he said He added he believed that
US financial assistance in the Middle East, including to Israel, was vital to
American national security.
Still, Graham said, it was always possible to
find a way to make budget cuts.
“We’re providing money to the UN Human
Rights Council. To me, that’s a good place to reduce
The delegation members spoke of the US’s unwavering support
for Israel. They rejected both Palestinian unilateral moves for statehood at the
United Nations and the Palestinian attempt to set the border of that state
squarely on the pre-1967 lines.
“From my point of view, I can never
imagine an agreement that goes back to the ’67 boundaries, because in my view
those boundaries are indefensible,” Graham said.
“The purpose of this
trip is to try and reinforce from my point of view the unwavering support that
the State of Israel has in Congress. Quite frankly, Congress has Israel’s back.
It is very important for the people in Israel to know that their national
security interests are legitimate.”
Graham also heaped praise on PA Prime
Minister Salam Fayyad’s state-building measures, but said that the only path to
statehood was through negotiations.
“To our allies out there who think
that some kind of UN-sanctioned state is going to solve all the problems, you are
doing more damage than good,” he said.
In speaking with The Jerusalem
Post after the meeting Rep. Kay Granger (RTexas) said that if the Palestinians
refused to return to the negotiating table with Israel, withdrawing US funding
would be a option, but that it was still too early to consider that.