Any final-status agreement with the Palestinians must take Israel’s security
needs into consideration, so that Hamas doesn’t take over territory should
Israel concede it, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni (Hatnua) told the World Jewish
Congress on Wednesday morning.
“It’s clear to me as a negotiator that any
agreement should and would give an answer to our security concerns. We are not
going to throw the keys to the other side of the border and hope that Hamas
won’t catch it,” Livni said.
Livni, who heads Israel’s negotiations with
the Palestinians, spoke to the WJC’s Executive Committee in Jerusalem in the
midst of back-to-back talks with PA chief negotiator Saeb Erekat, with the help
of US envoy Martin Indyk.
Israel has an obligation to ensure the security
of its citizens, but that would be best done through a final-status agreement
with the Palestinians, Livni said. Failure to reach such an agreement is a
security threat to Israel, she added.
Israel’s security is dependent not
just on its army, but also on its international relations and legitimacy to act
when needed, according to Livni.
The status quo cannot be maintained, and
those who doubt it need only look to European steps against settlement entities
and products, she pointed out. The delegitimization of West Bank settlements has
expanded and increasingly includes all of Israel, Livni said.
settlement building emphasizes the already existing and mistaken perception that
Israel is a “colonial state,” she said.
The longer the conflict persists,
the more it erodes Israel’s position within the negotiating room, she said; the
change in the international community’s stance with regard to the contours of a
two-state solution has not been in Israel interests.
If Israel fails to
come to a final-status agreement with the Palestinians, then it could find
itself in a position where the international community forces it to accept a
Palestinian state on its terms and not on Israel’s, she said.
opposes a two-state solution but has failed to present another viable
alternative, she said.
Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett (Bayit
Yehudi) said that failure to know the best solution doesn’t mean one should
execute the wrong one.
“We have to fight the battle for perception. We
are doing a lousy job, no doubt. So fix it.
But do not commit suicide
because it is giving you a bad [reputation]. Fix it. Do not commit suicide
because of that,” Bennett said.
He has argued in the past against placing
a Palestinian state in Area C of the West Bank, and he believes that Israel
should annex that area.
At the WJC conference on Wednesday morning,
Bennett said that history was filled with instances where common perception was
wrong. “The fact that everyone knows it does not mean it is right,” he
The Palestinians have self governance in Areas A and B of the West
Bank and should continue to do so, he said, adding that he does not want to
return to the situation of 20 years ago when Israel controlled Palestinian
civilian life in those areas.
But while the Palestinian Authority runs
its own civilian affairs, it still cannot be considered a viable state, he
“If we today declared a [Palestinian] state there [in the West
Bank] it would be a failed and non-viable state; it would be a failed and
hostile state. There is this obsession with a specific idea of implanting a
Palestinian state seven minutes from here,” he stated.
There are other
options that could be considered which do not include giving the Palestinians
Area C of the West Bank, he said; also, Jordan should be involved in the
Earlier that morning, MK Isaac Herzog (Labor), who supports
a two-state solution, said that there were many creative possibilities for a
final-status agreement that included land swaps for the West Bank, particularly
so that Israel could keep the Gush Etzion bloc and the Ma’aleh Adumim
With respect to Jerusalem, he said, there could be a plan
that would keep the city municipally united, even if sovereignty is split
between Israel and a future Palestinian state.
“We have to be innovative
here, provided that the holy sites are under Israeli sovereignty,” Herzog
He believes that a final-status agreement would not be possible
within nine months and that it would be better to aim for an interim deal.