Annex Area C of the West Bank now because the idea of creating a Palestinian
state there is over, said Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett (Bayit
Yehudi) on Monday.
“This our home. We are the tenants here, not
occupiers. The story of establishing a Palestinian state within our country,
that story is over,” Bennett said at a public relations conference in Jerusalem
sponsored by the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza
His comments were consistent with his party’s platform and the
position he has espoused before, during and after the national election in
January that placed his party in the government’s coalition.
utterance of this statement in the midst of a renewed push by US Secretary of
State John Kerry to rekindle the direct negotiations for a two-state solution,
struck a political and diplomatic nerve.
On Monday both Prime Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni who is in charge of the
peace process, reaffirmed their commitment to a two-state solution, in which a
portion of Area C would be given to the Palestinians.
But Bennett said
that such ideas, which were propagated under the 1993 Oslo Accord and the 2007
Annapolis process, no longer made any sense.
“Anyone who moves around in
Judea and Samaria knows that what they are saying in the corridors of Annapolis
and Oslo is detached from reality,” he said.
“We have to go from solving
the problem, to living with the problem,” Bennett said.
There isn’t a
perfect solution to the situation, he said.
He made use of a war story to
draw an analogy between the presence of Palestinians in Area C and a piece of
shrapnel that was lodged in his friend Yoav’s buttocks.
Yoav chose to
live with the shrapnel after the doctor warned him that surgical removal could
leave him disabled, Bennett said.
Similarly, he noted, Israel could live
with a Palestinian presence in Area C.
“There are situations in which
striving for perfection can cause more harm than good,” Bennett said.
important thing now, he said, “is to build, build and build. It is important to
have an Israeli presence everywhere.”
Israel has come to the situation,
he said, where the world expects it to withdraw from Area C, because it has
stopped understanding that this land belongs to the Jewish people.
central problem is the failure of the Israeli leadership to simply state that
the land of Israel belongs to the people of Israel,” he said.
reliance on security arguments for holding onto the West Bank and its failure to
claim its historic and just right to the land is the reason that a reporter like
Helen Thomas could say that Jews should return to the Europe.
because we do not say that the land is ours,” he said.
“We have to say
this to ourselves on Channel 2 and on CNN, that Israel belongs to the Jews,” he
“We have to tell ourselves and the whole world that his land has
belonged to us for 3,000 years. The most certain path to defeat is for Israel to
forget its sense of justice. This is true historically and legally. There has
never been a Palestinian state here,” he said.
But, he warned, this
position comes with an obligation to present a future plan for Area C, that
includes a Palestinian presence.
Area C, which covers 60 percent of the
West Bank, is under Israeli military control. All settlements, with a total
population of approximately 340,000 Israelis, are located in Area C.
the past Bennett has estimated that there are some 90,000 Palestinians also
living in Area C.
The bulk of the Palestinian West Bank population is in
Areas A and B, which includes the major cities.
Bennett said that the
government, he said, should immediately impose full sovereignty on Area C and
come up with a plan B for the Palestinians.
This should include an
aggressive economic program to improve life for both Palestinians and Jews in
the West Bank, he said.
The same money that has been spent on
international conferences about the Israeli- Palestinian conflict should be
reallocated to build better roads and industrial parks, Bennett
Investment should be made in coexistence and peace between people,
He added that Palestinians should govern their own civil
“Our opinion has not been accepted,” Bennett said, “but we will
return to it again and again.”
But Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin
(Likud) who spoke after Bennett warned the he did not believe it was a fait
accompli that the idea of a Palestinian state in Area C had
This will only happen, he said, if the State of Israel
changes it tactic and embarks on a public relations campaign to change
He said that while he agreed with Bennett,
Europeans would disagree with 90 percent of it.
Part of Israel’s problem,
Elkin said, is that it lacks the funds to fight such a public relations
The Foreign Ministry budget for public relations, he said, is NIS
9 million compared to the Palestinian Authority budget of $200,000
“We are like David, facing Goliath,” he said.