There are no more red lines regarding Israel’s security and negotiations with the Palestinians, Tourism Minister Uzi Landau warned this week in an interview with The Jerusalem Post.

Landau, who will be a featured speaker at The Jerusalem Post Annual Conference in New York on April 6, explained that since the Oslo Accords each round of negotiations have been launched from the ending points of the last round, regardless of whether they were implemented or abandoned.

“Right after the Six Day War, we had a number of red lines, a position that’s so vital to your security interests that you’re prepared to fight for it. One was never leaving the Golan, another was never getting out of the Jordan Valley, Jerusalem would never be on the negotiating table and would never be divided, and [Yasser] Arafat was a terrorist with whom we would never negotiate,” said Landau.

“What happened over the years – due to outside pressure and in order to look good in the world’s eyes – we were asked to make gestures at each round of negotiations.”

Regardless of whether the talks produced positive results or not, the subsequent talks months or years later would start from the position they ended and result in “more concessions, more gestures, more confidence-building measures.”

“I don’t believe that this current round will end up in something that gets us closer to peace – not that I don’t want it to – but, whatever the results, the next talks in a couple years will start from this last round of negotiations.”

Landau was adamant that the status of the Jordan Valley, currently under discussion in the talks, was not negotiable.

“In this respect, I belong in the school of thought of the late Yitzhak Rabin, Yigal Allon and the Labor movement who considered the Jordan Valley would always remain under Israeli sovereignty,” he said. “I think it’s vital to Israel’s future security, and beyond that, it’s part of the Land of Israel.”

Landau, who joined the Knesset in 1984 as a Likud MK and served as internal security minister from 2001 to 2003, broke with the party in 2004 over the disengagement from Gaza, initiated by then-prime minister Ariel Sharon. Despite resigning from the Sharon government in protest over the disengagement, Landau spoke with deep affection about the former prime minister whose condition has worsened in the last week.

“I see him as perhaps the greatest field general that we have had in our country’s modern history. He set the standard for military operations and personal responsibility and courage,” said Landau, who served under Sharon as an officer in the paratroopers in both the Six Day War in 1967 and the Yom Kippur War in 1973.

Turning to this week’s announcement that Pope Francis would be visiting Israel in May, Landau said that his ministry has made a point of reaching out to the Christian community in Israel and abroad to promote tourism.

“We, of course, are very privileged that the pope plans to visit us. I would like to invite him to visit the entire country and I call on his followers to follow in his footsteps and come to Israel,” said Landau.

“As tourism minister, I’ve met with the Latin patriarch of Jerusalem and the Greek Orthodox patriarch and have participated in a number of events and ceremonies in order to promote more Christian tourism to Israel.”

“It is our experience that most of the visitors to Israel end up as ambassador for the country. They see for their very eyes what the reality of Israel is.”

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