Michaeli: No one thinks half a million settlers will be evacuated

Michaeli clarified that her party believes that Israel should retain the settlement blocs in any final status two-state resolution of the conflict.

LABOR PARTY leader Merav Michaeli addresses a news conference in Tel Aviv earlier this month. (photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/FLASH90)
LABOR PARTY leader Merav Michaeli addresses a news conference in Tel Aviv earlier this month.
(photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/FLASH90)
Labor Party leader Merav Michaeli dismissed the idea of evacuating half-a-million setters as she clarified that her center-left party did not believe that Israel should return to its pre-1967 armistice lines.
“No one thinks that half-a-million Israelis will be evacuated from Judea and Samaria,” Michaeli said, when she spoke Monday at a virtual conference, “the silent war,” sponsored by the Makor Rishon newspaper.
The conference focused on the struggle between Israelis and Palestinians for control of Area C of the West Bank, which is under IDF civilian and military control. All settlements are located in that region of Judea and Samaria.
Michaeli clarified that her party believes that Israel should retain the settlement blocs in any final status two-state resolution of the conflict. She said that an agreement would likely include a land swap for 4% of Area C territory.
The Labor Party leader did not explicitly state that she believed that the isolated settlements should be evacuated in favor of a peace deal with the Palestinians, but the Labor Party supports such a step.
Instead, she spoke of the importance of a two-state resolution to the conflict, a move that many of the mostly right-wing participants in the conference object to.
Michaeli said that a two-state solution and the creation of permanent borders for both states was critical to ensuring Israel’s future security.
“I don’t want to evacuate anyone with force,” Michaeli said. The topic of evacuation is painful, she added.
“I am not interested in evacuation. I have no ideology of evacuation, I don’t want to cause harm on top of harm, I want to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and to create a border for the state of Israel,” Michaeli said, a border of peace between Israel and a future Palestinian state.
“There is no such thing as a nation without borders. Every nation has to know where it begins and where it ends and what it is defending,” Michaeli said. This has to be the case in the West Bank as well, she added.
Michaeli suggested entering into negotiations with the Palestinians, within a process that would include Arab countries such as Egypt and Jordan as well as those states which have normalized ties with Israel under the rubric of the Abraham Accords, and possibly Saudi Arabia.
“It is important to end the drama in Judea and Samaria and to continue to the next phase so we can develop the Zionist vision,” Michaeli said, for as long the conflict continues, the Zionist vision is in danger.”
She specifically spoke against the unauthorized settler outposts, which the right-wing parties have pushed the government to legalize, saying it is important not to let the outposts get in the way of resolving the conflict.
She also rejected claims by right-wing politicians that Israel has an inherent right to retain Area C of the West Bank and to apply sovereignty to it.
Most of Area C is slated to be included within the final borders of a future Palestinian state, Michaeli said, adding that over 50% of it was privately owned by Palestinians.
She noted that Israel has never annexed the West Bank settlements, though “there are those who want to apply sovereignty. But this has not happened.” Israel last year suspended plans to annex West Bank settlements in favor of normalization deals with four Arab states.
But when Transportation Minister Miri Regev from the Likud Party spoke at the conference, she said that annexation was still on the table.
“We are advancing settlements in Judea and Samaria. We are advancing de facto sovereignty in the territory of Judea and Samaria. Sovereignty is very much on the table,” Regev said, adding that such a move was in Israel’s national and security interest.