(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
"Unilateralism, I suppose that is possible but it would have to meet Israeli security criteria,” Netanyahu said during an hour long interview at the Center for American Progress in Washington.
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“It would require a broader international understanding than exists now,” Netanyahu said as he hinted that it could involve the cessation of some portions of Area C.
Education Minister Naftali Bennett who heads the Bayit Yehudi party has long argued that Netanyahu must have a plan for the day when negotiations with the Palestinians fail.
For the last two years Bennett has argued that Israel must annex Area C where all of the Israeli settlements are located.
Still, he said that Netanyahu’s comments about unilateralism as he made them at CAP, had sent a dangerous message to the Palestinians because it appeared to indicate that Netanyahu could cede territory at a time when Palestinians are attacking Israelis.
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"If terrorism pays, terrorism will increase," Bennett said. "Unilaterally giving land to Arabs is always a grave mistake. Talking about it at the height of a wave of terrorism sends the opposite message of what we need to send."
According to the Bayit Yehudi chairman, "the enemy needs to be punished for terrorism and not be given a prize for murdering Jews."
Bennett added that the unilateral action Israel must take is to annex Jewish settlements in the West Bank.
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, however, said that while he opposes unilateral moves, and interprets Netanyahu’s statements differently, pointing out that the two of them were against the 2005 disengagement from Gaza.
“I don’t know what the prime minister meant. I can’t assume or imagine that he meant unilateral withdrawal,” Erdan told Army Radio. “As someone who knows the prime minister…I do not believe that is what he meant.”
Erdan added: “Maybe he meant applying sovereignty to Area C, where there is a clear Jewish majority. I would support that.”
Similarly, Knesset Land of Israel Caucus chairmen Yoav Kisch (Likud) and Bezalel Smotrich (Bayit Yehudi) said: "We support the prime minister's announcement that he will take unilateral steps in Judea and Samaria. After two months of non-stop terror, Israel must take unilateral steps of construction and annexation."
They added that such action is the way to show the Palestinians that terror does not pay, and they will only lose in such confrontations, while Israel will come out stronger.
On the Left, MK Ilan Gilon (Meretz) also came out against Netanyahu’s statements, saying: “A one-sided step against the Palestinians is destined for failure. We see this in the failed results of the disengagement, which strengthened Hamas and turned Gaza into a greenhouse of despair and terrorism.”
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