PM stance on Palestinian contiguity debated
By HERB KEINON
Officials dispute interpretations that Netanyahu nodded to Palestinian territorial contiguity during CNN interview.
Government officials played down Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s comments in
a CNN interview this week expressing a seeming willingness for Palestinian
contiguity, saying he was referring to the West Bank, and not necessarily a
physical link from it to Gaza.
Netanyahu, the officials said, has not
publicly articulated a position on what he believes a link or “safe passage”
between the West Bank and Gaza should look like in a possible future
In a CNN interview that aired Tuesday, Erin Burnett asked
Netanyahu whether he thought the Palestinians should have a country that “is
contiguous, not islands here and islands there, but one space.”
said “yes,” but was then cut off before he could elaborate.
Later in the
interview Burnett again returned to the issue, and said she wanted to be clear
that a future state – which Netanyahu clarified must be demilitarized – “isn’t
separated by Israel, as in there is a Palestine part here, Israel... ” Netanyahu
said this was not what he was referring to, which would be “Swiss
Burnett said in her narrative of the interview that the use of
the word contiguous is significant, and that there was a “lot of weight in that
Government officials pointed out, however, that
Netanyahu actually never used the word.
One official said that the prime
minister was trying to rebut Palestinian claims that what he had in mind for a
future Palestinian state were Palestinian cantons surrounded by
Netanyahu also stressed in the interview that a future
Palestinian state would have to be demilitarized.
When challenged that
this would not be a “real state,” he replied, “Well, demilitarized is a real
state. It just means that they can’t field the armies. They can’t fire
rockets. We want to make sure that if we have a peace arrangement, we walk away
from certain areas that they won’t be used a third time by Iran and its
Palestinian proxies to fire rockets on Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.”
said Israel did not want to run Palestinian lives. “I don’t want to
govern the Palestinians. I don’t want them as subjects of Israel or as citizens
of Israel. I want them to have their own independent state but a demilitarized
During the interview, Netanyahu artfully dodged questions about
the US presidential elections, and poured water on the depiction by The New York
Times of his “warm friendship, little known to outsiders” with Republican
candidate Mitt Romney.
Netanyahu said that after working at the same
consulting firm with Romney in Boston 35 years ago, he did not meet him again
until many years later when he was finance minister and Romney was the governor
Asked whether Romney was his friend, and whether he
“likes him,” Netanyahu replied: “Well, look, here’s an answer that will – should
satisfy you. I respect Mitt Romney as I respect Barack Obama, the president of
the United States. And that’s the end of the ranking and the questions
that you will undoubtedly try again and again to draw me into.”