Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu hinted on Monday that at least some IDF forces
would need to be stationed long-term in a future Palestinian state and that this
would not detract from the sovereignty of that state.
RELATED:'Talks to continue if settlement building remains frozen'
In a conference
call with US Jewish leaders sponsored by the Conference of Presidents of Major
American Jewish Organizations, Netanyahu said there need not be a conflict
between Israeli security needs and Palestinian sovereignty.
Japan and South Korea have had foreign troops on their soil for an extended
period and nobody said that was “an affront to their respective sovereignties,”
Netanyahu said, referring to US troops that were stationed in those countries
following World War II.
Netanyahu said he did not believe an
international force would be able to provide Israel with the security guarantees
it needed, and that “the only force that can be relied on to defend the Jewish
people is the Israel Defense Forces.”
Netanyahu has on numerous occasions
said that an Israeli presence on the eastern border of a future Palestinian
state, meaning along the Jordan River, would be necessary to prevent the type of
arms smuggling taking place from Syria to Hizbullah in southern Lebanon, and
from Egypt to Hamas in Gaza. The prime minister stressed the need for solid
security arrangements on the ground so as not to repeat the mistakes made in
Lebanon and Gaza.
In his only reference to the impending end of the
settlement construction moratorium, Netanyahu said that both sides needed to
“stick it out even when we disagree.”
His talks so far with Palestinian
Authority President Mahmoud Abbas have been “substantive,” he said.
Netanyahu did not discuss the settlement freeze directly, his senior adviser Ron
Dermer, who answered questions along with Ambassador to the US Michael Oren,
said that finding a way to get past the moratorium issue was a litmus test
regarding whether it would be possible to solve other, more serious issues on
the table later on.
Oren said the current visits to the US by Defense
Minister Ehud Barak and President Shimon Peres were important “as we approach
the end of the moratorium on September 26.”
The prime minister said the
idea of coming to a framework agreement within a year was his idea, and that “If
I have such a partner who is prepared to make a historic compromise, as I am, I
think one year should be enough time.”
In Washington two weeks ago,
Netanyahu demonstratively said on two occasions that Abbas was his “partner in
Meanwhile, Likud MK Ophir Akunis is working on a bill that will
be brought to the Knesset at the beginning of its winter session next month
calling for a referendum on any agreement reached with the PA.
reportedly discussed the matter with Netanyahu.
On August 22, the day
after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the renewal of direct
talks, The Jerusalem Post
quoted officials in the Prime Minister’s Office as
saying that Netanyahu would take any accord he reached with the PA to the Knesset and then to the people, either in the form of a referendum or
In a related development, Barak met in New York on
Monday with Clinton, and in Washington with Defense Secretary Robert Gates,
National Security Adviser James Jones and Dennis Ross, the White House’s senior
Middle East adviser.
Following the Jones meeting, Barak issued a
statement saying they discussed different ways to enable the continuation of
direct talks with the Palestinians while “getting over” the issue of continued
building in Judea and Samaria.
“The decisions facing Israel and the
Palestinians are much more historic, important and dramatic then a continuation
of building in Judea and Samaria,” he said.
While Barak’s meetings with
Jones and Ross focused on diplomatic-process issues such as the settlement
moratorium, his parley with Gates was largely devoted to issues relating to
maintaining Israel’s qualitative military edge.
The issue, always high on
Israel’s agenda, has taken on added urgency as details of a new US arms
with Saudi Arabia have emerged. The sale could reach as high as $60
include advanced jets, helicopters and naval capabilities.
administration is to advise Congress on the deal shortly, which would
legislative body 30 days to vote to block the sale, as some members are
threatening to do. But most observers, including Israeli officials,
Congress won’t stop the sale.
Instead of working to cancel the sale,
Israel has tried to keep apprised of its exact components and ensure
Saudis don’t get technologies that would threaten the IDF’s qualitative
Barak’s meeting with Gates was aimed at learning more about the
details and scope of the potential blockbuster sale. Israeli sources
Jerusalem was “not thrilled” about the deal but understand it has to
Israel has also been finalizing its own deal with the
US for the advanced Joint Strike Fighter jet, and Barak has been holding
conversations with Gates and the US defense establishment on the
Barak, during his talks in the White House, expressed concern
about the approval of recent Russian sales to Syria, and said that what
worrisome to Israel was that these weapons could find their way into
hands, as was the case when Russian arms were found on the south Lebanon
battlefield after the war there in 2006.
He also discussed Iran, and said
Teheran was continuing to develop its nuclear program despite
“There is no doubt that the sanctions are harming Iran, but
Iran is buying time. I repeat, from Israel’s point of view, all options
remain on the table.”
In Prague, meanwhile, Foreign Minister Avigdor
Lieberman clarified to reporters after meeting Czech Foreign Minister
Schwarzenberg that his statements on Sunday about exchanging land and
territories with the Palestinians were his personal opinions, and not
Saying that the Israeli Arabs should be an issue in the
negotiations with the Palestinians, Lieberman reiterated his plan that
formula for peace should not be land for peace, but an exchange of
and populations that would redraw the borders, drawing most Israeli
Arabs into a
future Palestinian state, and most settlements into Israel.
Republic is one of Israel’s closest allies inside the EU, and
this alliance “is one of the key features of Czech foreign
policy.”Hilary Leila Krieger contributed to