Yishai: 'Greater Israel' outdated

Shas chairman tells 'Post' that territorial compromises are inevitable.

eli yishai 298 88 aj (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
eli yishai 298 88 aj
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Retaining all the settlements in Judea and Samaria is unrealistic, Shas chairman Eli Yishai said Monday. "The vast majority of settlers understand today that we will have to make territorial compromises," he said in an interview with The Jerusalem Post, just days after the National Union and the National Religious Party formed a joint list with the understanding they would not join a government that supports territorial compromise. "Talk about holding onto all our settlements was relevant 20 years ago," he said. "Today it is outdated." Yishai emphasized Shas's moderate diplomatic stance at a time when polls forecast Kadima and Labor, two parties that support territorial compromise, obtaining nearly half of the seats in the Knesset. "We and the Palestinians drink the same water, breathe the same air; we have to move ahead," he said. "Palestinians also understand that terrorism does not pay, and economic pressures will eventually force them to negotiate with us." "[Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef] never changed his opinion in support of territorial compromise within the framework of a peace agreement," Yishai said. Nevertheless, he reiterated Yosef's opposition to unilateral territorial concessions or negotiations with Hamas, saying, "The disengagement from Gaza will go down in history as a colossal mistake." "The rav foresaw the rise of Hamas after disengagement," Yishai said. "It strengthened the radical elements. We could have signed a peace agreement with [Palestinian Chairman Mahmoud Abbas] and strengthened more moderate voices." Regarding the demolition of nine homes in the Amona outpost on February 1, in which more than 200 people were injured, Yishai said that if he had been in the government he would have allowed settlers to dismantle the buildings on their own. But he also denounced settler violence, saying, "I am against radical behavior. There is no excuse for raising a fist against a policeman or a soldier. Extremists among the settlers are making the situation ugly."