Naftali Bennett at the JPost Annual Conference 2017 .
(photo credit: SIVAN FARAG)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud ally Energy and Water Minister Yuval Steinitz called Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas “antisemitic” in an address at The Jerusalem Post Annual Conference in New York on Sunday.
Steinitz said Trump’s upcoming visit to Jerusalem is a golden opportunity to strengthen the alliance of Israel and the US. But he warned Trump against relying on Abbas.
“An antisemitic leader is no partner for peace,” Steinitz said. “We always hope to achieve peace and security with our neighbors. But I question whether Abbas can be trusted as a partner to achieve peace and security.
Can a corrupt, dysfunctional, antisemitic Palestinian Authority become a partner to achieve peace?” Steinitz said there are two necessary conditions for restarting diplomatic talks with the Palestinians. He said Abbas should terminate anti-Israeli, antisemitic incitement in the Palestinian education system and ensure that the PA would be demilitarized.
“We got a commitment in Oslo that Gaza would be totally demilitarized,” Steinitz said. “If he is incapable of demilitarizing Gaza, how can we trust him as a partner? It’s a necessary condition to moving the diplomatic process forward. We are always ready to promote peace and negotiate it and give it a try, but I am not optimistic if those conditions are not met.”
Intelligence Services Minister Israel Katz (Likud) told the crowd that the Golan Heights are an indivisible part of Israel and the US administration should recognize that in light of the civil war in Syria.
Katz proposed that the governments in Jerusalem and Washington reach a series of understandings on the issue of the Syrian civil war and the implications it has on Israel’s security.
Besides recognizing Israeli sovereignty in the Golan Heights, Katz called for joint opposition to a permanent Iranian military presence in Syria and Lebanon, further sanctions against Iran until it stops supporting regional terrorist organizations and enhancing paralyzing sanctions on Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah.
“There is an opportunity to make it clear that there won’t be stability in the region until Iran is pushed back and weapons transfers are stopped,” Katz said.
Katz also condemned the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization for its recent anti-Israel resolutions and called for strengthening Jerusalem and expanding its borders in response.
On the Palestinian issue, Katz suggested focusing on civilian economic initiatives.
For instance, he said he is using the Transportation Ministry he heads to advance a railroad in an initiative that would benefit Israelis, Palestinians, Jordanians and countries that want to trade with them.
“Economic development and trade are the strongest path to peace,” he said.