Edelstein: Leader like Netanyahu could make peace

At 'Jerusalem Post' election debate, Likud minister says any peace will come from strength, not appeasement.

JPost election debate in Jerusalem 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
JPost election debate in Jerusalem 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
It takes a leader like Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to make peace, Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein, the only Likud minister who lives in the West Bank, told attendees at Wednesday’s Jerusalem Post debate at the Jerusalem Great Synagogue.
Well over a thousand people attended the debate, which was cosponsored by the synagogue and the Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel (AACI).
The debate pitted Edelstein against Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett, Labor MK Isaac Herzog, Strong Israel MK Arieh Eldad, and representatives from four other parties.
“We want to make peace, but we are not selling dreams,” Edelstein said.
“If peace comes, it will be under a leader like Netanyahu in a formula like [the late US president Ronald] Reagan talked about, peace from strength. Appeasement won’t work.”
Edelstein said he heard people saying they want Netanyahu to be prime minister, but did not know who to vote for. He said that because Netanyahu cannot become prime minister by winning a tender, voters needed to back Likud Beytenu and not satellite parties.
Bennett said voters should instead strengthen Netanyahu by voting for Bayit Yehudi. He received applause from the predominantly right-wing crowd for saying that his party vehemently opposed a Palestinian state, and questionable looks for calling for human rights for Arab residents of Israel.
Herzog criticized the crowd for clapping for Eldad saying Jordan is the Palestinian state.
“You have no clue about the regional consequences of that,” Herzog said.
Labor’s No. 2 candidate, Herzog, said Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas had made many mistakes, including refusing to negotiate with Netanyahu, which he said strengthened the prime minister’s case, and made things more difficult, but he cautioned against giving up hope that a peace agreement could be reached.
“If we don’t reach a deal and be proactive, we could lose settlement blocs like Gush Etzion, which is dear to my heart,” Herzog said.
Eldad criticized Netanyahu for supporting a two-state solution and Bennett for wanting to join a government that would negotiate the formation of a Palestinian state.
“You won’t find me in such a government,” Eldad said.
Meretz representative Laura Wharton accused Bennett of giving incorrect figures about the number of Palestinians.
On matters of religion and state, she said it was a tragedy that 10,000 Israeli couples get married abroad annually.
Yesh Atid candidate Dov Lipman said “Israel should not separate religion from state, but we should separate religion from politics.”
He asked for applause for Netanyahu for endorsing Yesh Atid’s plan for drafting yeshiva students.
Regarding the environment, Tzipi Livni Party candidate Alon Tal called for more usage of, and incentives for solar power and other alternative energy.
On the socioeconomic gap, Shas representative Menahem Shem Tov said “We have two states: One in Caesarea, one in Yeroham."