20 questions 58.
(photo credit: courtsey)
This week’s 20 Questions hosts Einat Wilf, a Member of Knesset within the Independence party who also sits on the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.
For the Palestinians' sake
Wilf gave her reactions to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s address in Congress on May 24, judging it as being a very good speech overall.
Responding to anticipated critique that Netanyahu’s speech raised too many “non starters” that the Palestinians cannot agree to, Wilf said that if indeed this proved to be the case, a serious question regarding the conflict and the ability to resolve it will arise.
Wilf described the PM’s demand that the Palestinians tear up their pact with Hamas as “a dramatic call.” That being said, Wilf emphasized that Israel would be willing to negotiate with the Palestinians if there is acceptance of basic principles including ending the conflict, the right of Israel to exist and a finality on all claims.
Netanyahu’s declaration that some settlements will inevitably end up on the other side of the border with Palestine contradicts previous statements made by the prime minister in which he promised not to evacuate settlements. Wilf posits that the PM’s statements were not necessarily unequivocal; the settlements could remain intact but the residents would then have to decide if they want to become citizens of a Palestinian state.
This raised the issue of whether Israel would ever demand that Jews be allowed to remain in their homes and become Palestinian citizens. Wilf sees this as a distinct possibility since it is a legitimate issue for Israel to raise, if only as a matter of principle.
Wilf believes that Israel’s trend of moving towards the Right is balanced by the fact that the rightwing itself is becoming more centered. The Likud-led government, ostensibly Right, has taken unprecedented steps, including settlement freezes and dramatic concessions for peace.
Wilf praised Palestinian Prime Minister Salaam Fayad for thinking differently and shifting the focus from the question of Israel’s right to exist to the goal at hand - establishing a Palestinian state.
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