The thunderous applause Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu received in Washington
did not drown out what settlers consider to be one of the most dangerous lines
in his speech: his clear willingness to cede some West Bank
Netanyahu is not the only prime minister to have spoken of
painful compromises in the peace process.
PA on Congress speech: PM's policies won't bring
MKs unsold by Netanyahu speech to Congress
But Tuesday’s speech to the US
Congress in Washington marked the first time that Netanyahu, who campaigned on a
platform of preserving Judea and Samaria, has stated that Israel would
relinquish some settlements.
“In any peace agreement that ends the
conflict, some settlements will end up beyond Israel’s borders. The precise
delineation of those borders must be negotiated. We will be very generous on the
size of a future Palestinian state,” Netanyahu said during his speech.
added, “I recognize that in a genuine peace, we will be required to give up
parts of the ancestral Jewish homeland.”
Dani Dayan, who heads the
Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip said that
Netanyahu’s words were “completely unacceptable” and marked a “significant step
The prime minister had said he would not discuss borders
outside of the negotiations, and instead he has already begun to set the
borders, in advance of talks, he said.
Dayan noted that Netanyahu also hinted
that Israel would not remain in the Jordan Valley.
The significance of
Netanyahu’s statements was not lost on the head of the Karnei Shomron settlement
Herzl Ben-Ari, as he sat in the studio of a radio station and watched Netanyahu
“I am very worried,” he later told The Jerusalem
He acknowledged that Netanyahu’s speech was “brilliant,”
particularly the parts about the dangers of Hamas, the unity of Jerusalem and
the Jewish character of the State of Israel.
What will be remembered, he
said, is that Israel is willing to make painful concessions and give up
Ben-Ari warned that it was one more step toward Israel’s
destruction. In his Bar-Ilan speech in June 2009, Netanyahu recognized a
twostate solution. In the Knesset last week he hinted that Israel would give up
settlements beyond the blocs. Now he stated it more clearly, Ben-Ari
He was not swayed by Netanyahu’s pledge that Israel would not
accept a return to the pre-1967 borders.
Netanyahu’s words brings Israel
one step closer to the ’67 line, and soon that will be the border and Israel
will not be able to defend itself, he added.
Although his settlement is
located near the green-line and thus is likely to be retained in any final
status agreement with the Palestinians, Ben-Ari said his concern was not for his
own home, but for the future of the state.
“The question is, to whom are
we making these painful concessions to and for what?” he asked.
he said, that after hearing Netanyahu the Palestinian Authority decides not to
unify with Hamas and a peace deal is concluded then with PA President Mahmoud
What would stop Hamas from taking over the new Palestinian state,
just like it seized control of Gaza, Ben-Ari asked.
Dayan said that
Netanyahu should have used the tremendous support he had in Congress to talk
about the dangers of a Palestinian state, rather than pledge to recognize a
state attained through a negotiated settlement.
When he spoke about a
Palestinian state, the applause was not as strong, Dayan said.
he would have received a standing ovation if he had said the truth, that a
Palestinian state is not a solution to the conflict, but the prologue to a new
confrontation,” Dayan said.
But Benny Kashriel, who heads the
third-largest Jewish West Bank city, Ma’aleh Adumim, said he was impressed with
the speech and its reception in the US.
As a long-time member of the
Likud Central Committee, Kashriel said it was important for the prime minister’s
party to give him a wide berth of support as he continues his diplomatic battle
on the nation’s behalf.
Netanyahu emphasized the need for the PA to
accept Israel as a homeland for the Jews and the need to keep Jerusalem unified,
The statements about giving up land, however, pale in
comparison to these two points, particularly given that the Palestinians have
already rejected the offers that Netanyahu made to restart peace talks, Kashriel
What is important is that Netanyahu fulfill the statement he made
last week, that Israel would retain the settlement blocs, Kashriel
Netanyahu must now turn his words into action and approve permits
for new construction in those blocs, he said.
“We bless his words, but
now we expect him to act,” Kashriel said.