PM: No foreign troops in PA territory

Netanyahu tells cabinet Israel wants recognition of state's right to keep future Palestine demilitarized.

Netanyahu before speech 248.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Netanyahu before speech 248.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
The international guarantees Israel is seeking to ensure that a future Palestinian state remains demilitarized does not mean the introduction of foreign forces, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told the cabinet at its Sunday meeting. Expanding on his speech last week at Bar-Ilan University in which he said international guarantees were necessary to make sure a future Palestinian state would be demilitarized, Netanyahu said rather that Jerusalem wanted international acceptance of the principle that Israel could take the actions it thought necessary to ensure the future state's demilitarization. "We need effective measures to ensure demilitarization," Netanyahu said. "The existing ones in Lebanon and Gaza are not effective." Netanyahu said that Israel wanted international recognition for the idea of a demilitarized state to avoid a situation wherein Israel would withdraw from territory that was to be demilitarized, the Palestinians would violate that agreement and then Israel would be blamed for going back into the Palestinian territories to destroy weapons. The prime minister stressed that Israel's security could not be safeguarded without demilitarization, and that demilitarization did not detract at all from Palestinian self-determination. "I don't understand why for self-determination the Palestinians need Kassam and Grad rockets," the prime minister said. "I understand they need a strong police and security apparatus, and we encourage that, but do they need tanks, artillery or rockets?" Alluding to the situation in the Gaza Strip, Netanyahu said that Israel, based on its experience there, had the full right to demand that a future Palestinian state be demilitarized. Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said that any progress with the Palestinian Authority on negotiations in the West Bank must include the reversibility of the situation in the Gaza Strip, and the disarmament and demilitarization of that region. Steinitz said that a dangerous precedent would be set if negotiations moved forward with the PA on Judea and Samaria, but there was no demilitarization of the Gaza Strip. He said a demilitarized Palestinian state also meant a demilitarized Gaza Strip. Regarding the demand for Palestinian recognition of Israel as the homeland for the Jewish people, Netanyahu said this was necessary to ensure that any agreement reached would put an end to all Palestinian claims on Israel. Netanyahu added, however, that neither the demilitarization of a Palestinian state nor Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state were preconditions for entering into immediate talks with the Palestinians. He said that Israel had no preconditions, and expected the same of the Palestinians. The PA leadership has made clear it would not enter talks with Israel until it recognized a two-state solution and stopped all settlement construction. Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Ya'alon, during the cabinet discussion on Netanyahu's Bar-Ilan University speech, said that over the past 16 years successive Israeli governments had created a "dangerous asymmetry" whereby Palestinians speak of their "rights" to the land, and Israel only speaks of its "security." Ya'alon said Israel needed to speak about the Jewish right to the land as well. The Arabs, he said, have the right to live everywhere in the country, from the Galilee to the Negev - while in the country's political discussion it was taken for granted that there would eventually be areas, as is the case in the Gaza Strip today, where it is forbidden for Jews to live. Ya'alon said it was necessary to change the thinking that in an era of peace, Jews would have to move out of Judea and Samaria, and that the idea - for instance - that Jews could not live in Beit El under Palestinian sovereignty was one that needed to be changed.