(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Reiterating his fierce opposition to a two-state solution, Education and Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett (Bayit Yehudi) said Monday that the creation of a Palestinian state would see an influx of Palestinian refugees, many of whom he believes would try to cross into Israel.
Addressing the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations (CPMAJO) at its annual summit in Jerusalem, Bennett said: “If we establish a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria, that state will open up the gates and will see a flood of refugees enter Judea and Samaria.”
He warned that the result would be a swift reversal of the Jewish majority between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea to an Arab one.
“That would be a huge mistake and can’t be undone. Anyone who thinks these millions of refugees will enter Judea and Samaria… and remain content there is mistaken,” Bennett said, speculating that those arriving in Nablus and Ramallah would soon be redirected to Tel Aviv and Haifa.
Trump on the two state solution for Israel and Palestinians during meet with Trump , Feb. 15, 2017 (credit: REUTERS)
The minister touted his wellknown proposal for a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: annexing Area C of the West Bank and offering residency or citizenship to the Palestinians living there, while offering “autonomy on steroids” to Palestinians living in Areas A and B.
He added that he was “very pleased to see that gradually Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is adopting this approach.” While acknowledging that “the jury is still out on this issue,” he expressed satisfaction that Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump are willing to explore new ideas.
At a joint press conference held by Netanyahu and Trump at the White House last week, Trump said, “I’m looking at two states and one state, and I like the one that both parties like.”
Bennett said it is “no secret” that he believes “establishing a third Palestinian state in the heart of Israel is a profound mistake.”
The minister, who heads the rightwing party Bayit Yehudi, views the Gaza Strip – from which Israel withdrew in 2005 – as a “full-blown” state that has the four central trappings of statehood: clear borders, an effective governing body, military power and foreign relations. He says Gaza has “three-and-a-half” of these.
But the Palestinians and other international organizations and rights groups, including the UN, still view Gaza as occupied, arguing that while Israel may not be physically present inside the enclave, it still has “effective control” over it.
Bennett also referred to Jordan, with its majority Palestinian population, as a second existing Palestinian state – a title Jordan rejects.
Responding to a question about the recent evacuation of the Amona outpost, Bennett said that “Netanyahu clearly promised Amona residents he would form a new town for them immediately,” and expressed confidence that the prime minister would meet that commitment.