While Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was in Washington meeting with US
President Barack Obama on Wednesday, ahead of Thursday’s summit with Palestinian
Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Likud MK Tzipi Hotovely was in Ariel talking
to Likud central committee members about her plan to annex the West Bank and
give full Israeli citizenship to all its residents, Jewish and Arab.
fact that Hotovely is starting to make her plan public now is not coincidental.
She wants Netanyahu and the world to know that there is a viable alternative to
the creation of a Palestinian state, so it will be on the table when – as she
and many others expect – yet another effort to reach an agreement with the
To that end, Hotovely has spent her summer vacation
not relaxing on European beaches like many of her Knesset colleagues but
with top experts on demography and security and drafting an in-depth
for what she calls “one state for two peoples.”
She intends to complete
the draft by the time the Knesset’s extended summer recess ends in
publish it in hopes of having the same impact on Netanyahu from the
the Geneva Initiative did from the Left on former prime minister Ariel
who, some say, was pressured to withdraw from Gaza by that plan.
first heard a presentation on the one-state option from Netanyahu’s
bureau chief and current Makor Rishon
deputy editor Uri Elitzur at a
she organized at the Knesset in May 2009 entitled “Alternatives to the
Hotovely invited many thinkers on the Right to present their
plans, and she at first did not like any of them but eventually decided
Elitzur’s idea had the most potential, and she endorsed it at the
Conference in February.
Former defense minister Moshe Arens, who also
spoke at Hotovely’s event, was similarly persuaded by Elitzur’s argument
came out in favor of it in June.
Among current politicians other than
Hotovely, only Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin has been quoted as
one-state solution. But Rivlin only refers to it as the lesser of two
compared to dividing the land of Israel, and he does not see it as a
solution ready to be implemented that is better than the status
Hotovely, by contrast, believes the Right must have a practical plan
now that can be presented to the world to alleviate international
pressure at a
time when Israel’s right to exist and defend itself is being
Unlike many on the Right, she agrees with Obama’s assessment
that the status quo is unsustainable, but for very different reasons
“The world will continue pushing us,” Hotovely said in an interview
in Jerusalem. “The Goldstone report and flotilla incident proved that
though Israel left Gaza, we still must defend every step we take there.
in the worst situation, whereby we are being delegitimized and no matter
do, we will still be responsible for the Palestinians. Most Israelis are
of the demographic threat and want to be away from the Arabs. They don’t
we can’t pretend that they are not there.”
She says she does not believe
a two-state solution can succeed, because past peace processes have
the maximum territory that Israel can give is less than the minimum that
Palestinians would accept, and the issues of Jerusalem and refugees
cannot be resolved.
She also fears the Palestinian problem will continue
even if there would be two states, because the Palestinians would
provoking Israel to respond to attacks in hopes of additional
that could help them defeat it in the international battle for public
“David beating Goliath is no longer the exception to the rule,”
Hotovely said. “The stronger army is not in the best position anymore.
strength has become a burden. Israel cannot beat the Palestinians,
world won’t accept inevitable pictures of dead children.
“The Left always
said that if we reached an accord and they attacked us over sovereign
we would respond with full force, but that view doesn’t take into
Israel’s public relations failures over the past decade.”
EXPLAINING WHY both the status quo and two states are unacceptable,
said the onestate solution can be palatable because it would enable
maintain control over all of Judea and Samaria, which is important to
Jewish and Zionist reasons, and no one would have to move.
been a cloud hanging over Judea and Samaria for far too long,” she said.
need to stop thinking that they can be given up in one deal or another.
oppose giving up the Golan, because they have been there. They support
Judea and Samaria because they haven’t been there. If we annexed it, it
bring them closer.”
Hotovely suggests annexing the West Bank in stages,
starting with the settlement blocs and Jordan Valley in which there are
Palestinians. She would annex the rest after building the
accepting a million and a half Palestinians.
By infrastructure, she means
a constitution or bills guaranteeing Israel’s future as a Jewish state.
bills would encourage aliya in a serious way and require all citizens to
national service, which could be done in their communities. Israel would
to policing Ramallah and Jenin and would control the Palestinian
system to ensure that it encourages coexistence.
with demographers, Hotovely believes Israel can maintain a 70 percent to
Jewish majority if aliya was encouraged as a national priority.
this on there currently being nearly 6 million Israeli Jews and 1.5
Israeli Arabs. There is a debate among demographers whether there are
million or 2.5 million Arabs in the West Bank. She would not annex Gaza,
she would like to see come under Egyptian control.
Hotovely would not
call the result a binational state, because that would necessitate
symbols, language, education and historical narratives. That’s what
her from Israelis on the extreme left who want a one-state solution.
call it a Jewish state with a large Arab minority,” she said. “I know
one-state solution has problems and I am thinking about how to solve
in the Middle East, every solution has a price. I prefer to fight the
Palestinians in parliament and not with tanks, and I would rather have
by Ahmed Tibi and Saeb Erekat in the Knesset than missiles on
Hotovely said her plan has three main challenges: persuading
Israelis, convincing the international community and selling it to the
Palestinians. She believes the first would be the hardest of the three,
said that just as support for a Palestinian state went from the fringes
extreme left to mainstream in a short period, the reverse can also
She has presented the plan to congressmen in the US and
politicians in Europe and Australia. She said they were surprisingly
open to it,
especially those who realize the two-state solution was doomed. She
that the world would accept the plan if the Palestinians did.
A poll of
1,010 Palestinians published in The Jerusalem Post
this week that was
by the Bethlehem-based Palestinian Center for Public Opinion proves that
quest would not be easy.
The poll found that 86% of Palestinians opposed
the annexation of the West Bank to Israel and granting its residents
citizenship, while only 10% favored the idea. Nearly 55% favored a
solution, while 26% said they preferred a binational state as part of a
But Hotovely is undeterred. She intends to present
the plan to Netanyahu in the near future, despite his newly launched
negotiations with the Palestinians.
“Israel must have a Plan B after Plan
A blows up,” she said. “We have been through Camp David, disengagement,
offer and we are on the way to another failure. Netanyahu is making
effort in Washington, but he knows it will fail. Israel doesn’t have a
its hat, but this could be it.”