Ya’alon: No trading land for terror

Vice PM says W. Bank settlements aren't what hinders peace.

yaalon office 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
yaalon office 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The Palestinian refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state – and not the settlers – is the stumbling block to peace, Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya’alon (Likud) said Wednesday night.
He spoke at a memorial event in the Eli settlement for slain IDF soldier Maj. Eliraz Peretz, who lived in the Givat Hayovel outpost located on the outskirts of the community.
As US special envoy George Mitchell met with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to launch the proximity talks, Ya’alon told hundreds of settlers who had gathered in a large synagogue in Eli, “We are ready for direct talks, without any preconditions.”
When this happened, he said, Israel would advance many issues in a way that would improve Palestinian lives.
Ya’alon warned, however, that Israel was not willing to engage in a diplomatic process in which it would trade land for terror, such as he believed had occurred with the Oslo Accord.
The Palestinians have refused to negotiate with Israel while it engages in settlement activity. But Ya’alon dismissed the idea that Israel’s presence in the West Bank was the main reason for the continued conflict with the Palestinians.
From the Arab perspective, he said, the occupation did not start in 1967 with the Six Day War, but in 1948 with the War of Independence – and even before that, in 1882 when Jews first began immigrating to Israel to build a national homeland.
Many Israelis ignore the fact that for the Arabs, Tel Aviv and Haifa are also settlements or places under occupation, he said.
“It’s not because of the settlements in Judea and Samaria that there is no peace, but rather because of the Arab refusal from the dawn of Zionism – and this is true of Fatah and Hamas – to recognize the State of Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people,” said Ya’alon.
“We do not want to rule over our neighbors [the Palestinians]. They govern themselves, and it is good that this is so. But that does not mean that Jews do not have a right to live in Judea and Samaria,” said Ya’alon.
As part of exercising that right, the issue of the unauthorized outposts should be reexamined, he added. Although he did not name it specifically, he was referencing the 2005 report that former prime minister Ariel Sharon commissioned from attorney Talia Sasson, which concluded that 105 outposts in Judea and Samaria were unauthorized.
The report took communities and neighborhoods of existing settlements that were in the process of authorization and labeled them unauthorized, Ya’alon charged, adding that it was the report itself that was illegal.
Israel is a nation of laws, he stressed. A home that is illegally built, or which has been constructed on private Palestinian land, would be removed. But he said he believed that the bulk of the outposts could be authorized.
Already the government has told the High Court of Justice that itintends to reevaluate the status of the land in Givat Hayovel andHaresha, and to authorize both those outposts.
At present, due to Givat Hayovel’s illegal status, the home of Peretz’swidow, Shlomit, and his four children is in danger of being demolished.The same is true of the home of slain soldier Maj. Ro’i Klein, whosewidow and three children live just a few dwellings down from the Peretzfamily.
The state is also looking to legalize the Netiv Ha’avot and Rehilim outposts, said Ya’alon.
Turning to a separate topic, he blasted the violent activity of anarchists, be they settlers or left-wing activists.
“When one is talking about the rule of law, it is impossible to ignorethe anarchists who have harmed soldiers or police, Arabs or Jews, inYitzhar or Bil’in,” he said, declaring that they needed to be dealtwith via a heavy hand.