MK Ofir Akunis (Likud) 311.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Israel would be better off aiming for a long-term interim agreement with the Palestinians rather than a final status deal which would establish a Palestinian state, according to a close political confidante of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
Likud MK Ofir Akunis told Israel Radio on Thursday morning that he believes the Palestinians are “not ripe” for statehood.
“Not only aren’t they ripe for a state, but they’re not even ripe for expanded autonomy,” Akunis told Israel Radio. “They’re not ripe to hold talks with Israel.”
“The problem is that there are two sides. On the Israeli side, there is wall-to-wall agreement in the coalition over the need to restart negotiations with the Palestinians, but there is the other side that has consistently refused to do so,” Akunis, who holds the title of deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, told Israel Radio.
“There’s a need to enter talks in order to reach some kind of agreement,” said Akunis.
“Given the circumstances that have taken shape in the region, particularly in relation to the Palestinians, a long-term interim arrangement would be better [for Israel],” said Akunis.
The Likud lawmaker said the party’s position has been validated by the previous two election results in which the public has endorsed the ruling faction’s approach to the peace process.
When asked about Netanyahu’s refusal to sign a joint declaration with the Polish government affirming Israel’s commitment to a speedy resolution to the conflict with the Palestinians, Akunis replied: “The Israeli government’s policy has been consistent and wise. We extend our hand in peace, Israel wants peace, and Israel wants to restart direct negotiations without preconditions.”
Akunis said the “remarkable” changes taking place in the region, particularly in Syria, require Israel to take a cautious approach in its foreign and defense policies.