WASHINGTON – Israel must formally separate from the Palestinians in order to ensure its long-term security, Labor Party leader Avi Gabbay said on Sunday.
Speaking in Washington before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Gabbay repeatedly emphasized Israel’s security, linking it both to an effort by the Trump administration to jump start Israeli-Palestinian peace talks as well as to a fraying bipartisan American consensus on Israel policy.
“We will never compromise on the security of our country,” Gabbay said. “We will not allow Iran to have nuclear capabilities. We will not allow Hezbollah to attack the people of northern Israel, just as we did not allow Hamas to harm the people of southern Israel.”
But, he said, “We must keep the support for Israel bipartisan. This is a strategic asset for Israel’s security.”
“The core foundation of our security is our alliance with you,” he added.
Gabbay praised US President Donald Trump for recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and for officially announcing his intention to move the US Embassy there from Tel Aviv.
A facility in Jerusalem is set to formally open in May.
“I believe that peace will ensure the long-term security of Israel,” he said. “I hope that President Trump’s plan starts by building trust. We must not give up on this dream. We must make this dream a reality. We must separate ourselves from the Palestinians.”
Gabbay condemned continued Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank, while calling out Palestinian leaders for continuing to incite their citizens to violence – a tactic he said was not only immoral, but also counterproductive.
He specifically condemned a Palestinian program that compensates the families of Palestinians convicted in Israel of murder and terrorism.
The US Congress is considering legislation that would cut Palestinian Authority funding over the program.
While Gabbay did not explicitly refer to corruption probes of his political rival, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he did make one vague reference by saying, “We are better than some of the news coming out of Israel today.”