Those who call on Israel to disband the Palestinian Authority, annex the West Bank and cancel the Disengagement Law in order to return to Gush Katif will lead Israel to a catastrophe, former chief of staff and number three on the National Union Party’s list for the Knesset, Gadi Eisenkot, said to students in Efrat on Sunday.
Eisenkot's comments were noteworthy since he belongs to the same list as the former New Hope faction, including right-wing ministers Gideon Sa'ar and Ze'ev Elkin.
There were three significant steps to separation from the Palestinians, Eisenkot said. “Yizhak Rabin in ‘94-‘95, who gave the Palestinians in the Oslo Accords 40% of the territory, areas A and B, which constituted 94-95% of the Palestinian population, who live today under the Palestinian Authority.
“[Former prime minister] Benjamin Netanyahu continued this in ‘97-‘98, when he signed the Hebron Agreement and handed over the city of Hebron. And [former prime minister] Ariel Sharon continued this in 2005 in his decision to disengage from Gaza, and 2.1 million Palestinians there today live under Palestinian rule.
"Unfortunately, and this is a reality that we did not choose, they live under Hamas, who has a clear ideology that seeks to establish an Islamic State on all of Israel's territory, whose capital is Jerusalem, and is, therefore, a bitter enemy that we need to fight in every way."Gadi Eisenkot
“Unfortunately, and this is a reality that we did not choose, they live under Hamas, which has a clear ideology that seeks to establish an Islamic state on all of Israel’s territory, its capital Jerusalem, and is therefore a bitter enemy that we need to fight in every way,” Eisenkot said.
“As someone who fought terror for many years, I propose to listen to everyone, to all opinions. At the end of the day, I demand from my leaders to speak the truth, to chart out a path and to give hope, not to use quarrelsome rhetoric and a clenched fist,” he said.
Eisenkot’s comments came 10 days after he said the settler agenda of building everywhere in the West Bank is pushing Israel toward a dangerous one-state reality, for which he was criticized by the Right.
Right-wing politicians responded in kind
“No matter how many skullcaps National Unity has in its top 10, they will not succeed in hiding the fact that Eisenkot and [Defense Minister Benny] Gantz are Left, both in statements and actions,” Interior Minister and Bayit Yehudi Party leader Ayelet Shaked wrote on Twitter. “I call on people on the Right who are mistakenly thinking of voting for them to return home to Bayit Yehudi,” she wrote.
Religious Zionist Party leader MK Bezalel Smotrich also responded.
“Settling the Land of Israel is a value,” he said in a statement. The Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories [COGAT] should be disbanded and annexation should be promoted. Oslo and the disengagement were a disaster for Israel. Now it is your turn. Which values will the next government lead by? Gantz, Eisenkot and disengagement, or religious Zionism?” he asked.