Naftali Bennett (L) and Donald Trump (R).
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST & FLICKR)
US President Donald Trump should release his anticipated peace plan before the upcoming election, New Right leader Naftali Bennett said in a speech in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, as Labor leader Avi Gabbay presented a diplomatic plan of his own.
New Right co-leader Naftali Bennett
“Let my people know!” Bennett said repeatedly, arguing that the electorate should be fully informed before going to a vote on April 9.
Bennett began by saying that the US is Israel’s greatest ally, “a friendship based on trust and shared values, and there is no doubt that you, President Trump, are a true friend to Israel.”
However, he lamented that “we, the Israelis, are in the dark” about Trump’s “deal of the century.”
“It seems that everybody is in the loop, planning the Palestinian State right over our heads: The Americans, the Saudi Prince, the Palestinians, the Jordanian King, even Erdogan of Turkey, a blatant antisemite! Even he's in the loop! Everybody's in the picture. Everybody but us, the people of Israel,” Bennett said.
“Why is it being hidden from us? Don't we, the Israelis, deserve to know what is in store for us before we go to these crucial elections? Can’t we know what we are voting about?” he asked.
The establishment of “a Palestinian terror state,” as Bennett called it, “will threaten our very existence. This is not theory. This is about the lives of our children…While we deeply respect the American President, and while nobody doubts his good intentions, it is us, the Israelis, who will pay the price.”
Therefore, Bennett called on Trump to “let my people know,” what kind of Palestinian state he’s planning, what he sees as the fate of Jerusalem, and all other contents of the plan.
“The Land of Israel has been our homeland for almost 4000 years. Nobody can tear it apart. Nobody can divide Jerusalem again,” he stated. “It’s our land. It’s our lives. It’s our future. And it’s our right to decide our fate.”
Labor Party leader Avi Gabbay, who avoided the diplomatic issue until his party fell in the polls, outlined the new diplomatic plan of his party on Wednesday at a press conference at the party’s Tel Aviv headquarters.
The plan calls for a regional solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict with relatively moderate Arab countries and the creation of a Palestinian state that would be demilitarized. The plan was purposely announced after US President Donald Trump’s senior adviser Jared Kushner revealed details of the plan he has been working on for the president.
Earlier this week, Kushner told Sky News in Arabic that the Trump peace plan will "focus on drawing the border and resolving the core issues."
Gabbay said “the Trump plan will be the central diplomatic challenge before the new government that will be formed after the election. This timing is an opportunity to talk about our views and our plan for the most important issue for the future and the security of the State of Israel.”
Gabbay’s plan is called “Paths to separation.” He said it is intended to reverse the direction Israel has been heading in under right-wing governments.
“As long as we continue implementing the vision of [New Right leader Naftali] Bennett and building outside the settlement blocs, we are making the problem worse and unilaterally undermining and preventing separation. To stop this dangerous pattern, we promise to have the government define its settlement blocs and stop building outside of them immediately after the next government is formed.”
The plan promises that within six months after its formation, the government would pass and begin implementing an evacuation-compensation plan for residents of Judea and Samaria who do not live in the settlement blocs that would be defined.
Despite repeated denials from Gabbay since his election in July 2017 that he favored unilateral withdrawals, the plan supports such a move as a fallback.
“Israel will announce that it would prefer to coordinate its steps with its neighbors and the international community but say that even without such coordination, it would move forward independently to design its future,“ the plan says.
Earlier, Gabbay released an advertisement in which he attacked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on economic issues and said his only economic experience was working for a furniture company that went bankrupt.
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