Israel won’t make any West Bank territorial concessions for the Palestinians in exchange for a normalization deal with Saudi Arabia, Finance Minster Bezalel Smotrich told Army Radio on Monday.
“We will strengthen Israel’s hold on Judea and Samaria, we will strengthen the settlements,” Smotrich said.
He spoke amid reports that Israel was under pressure from the United States to offer significant concessions to the Palestinians as part of a normalization deal with Saudi Arabia.
The Biden administration is pushing for a deal between Washington and Riyadh that would include the normalization of ties with Israel.
The focus has been on the Saudi demands from the Biden administration including US support for a civilian nuclear program that would include uranium enrichment. The Saudis also want a defense pact with the US and the sale of advanced weaponry.
Smotrich: We won't concede territory, Saudi Arabia will make a deal anyway
Smotrich, who heads the Religious Zionist Party, is not part of the negotiations for the deal, but as a member of the coalition, his party would have to support an agreement with Riyadh.
The deal, Smotrich said, has “No connection to Judea and Samaria” nor will it include anything that would endanger the state of Israel by giving up territory in the West Bank or creating a Palestinian state there.
There won’t be a “return to the terrible injustice of territorial concessions,” he said The deal will move forward without “returning it to the path of the destructive Oslo Accords,” he explained as he referenced the 1993 and 1995 deals that set out a path for giving most of the West Bank to the Palestinians.
A deal with Riyadh would benefit Israel, the Americans, and Saudi Arabia, he said, explaining it is in the “clear interest” of all three nations and provide them with incredible opportunities.
It will create an important moderate front against the Iranians and against terrorists who are threatening the West, Smotrich explained.
“We will give a lot for peace in exchange for peace [with Saudi Arabia],” he said. “We can give many things to the Saudis in this deal, you have no idea how much.”
The Saudis will enter the deal because it will offer them enough benefits so that they will want the agreement.
“The Saudis are not entering this deal to do us any favors,” he said.
“The things on the table are much more important than public opinion” with respect to the conflict with the Palestinians, he said.
“It will be a win-win deal and it will improve the situation in the Middle East,” he added.