Minister of Economy and Jewish Home Chairman Naftali Bennett threatened to quit the coalition if the government agrees to a US-brokered deal with the Palestinian Authority based on the 1967 borders.
In 1967, Israel, under threat from surrounding Arab nations preparing to destroy the tiny Jewish state, launched a war of defense and won an outstanding victory, liberating the Old City of Jerusalem as well as Judea and Samaria, the heartland of the Jewish nation.
Bennett is adamantly opposed to adopting a framework for the deal, proposed by US Secretary of State John Kerry, which would likely demand that Israel make major withdrawals from Judea and Samaria.
The framework would lay out the final goals and eventual shape of a final-status agreement, with Israel reportedly committing to major withdrawals.
Kerry would also expect the PA to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and to back off on some of its demands, according to several news sources.
Speaking at an Institute for National Security Studies conference in Tel Aviv this week, Bennett outlined what he called his “red lines” regarding a future peace agreement.
“Friends, the games are over,” he asserted. “We won’t play with words anymore: the ’67 lines means splitting Jerusalem, and giving up the Mount of Olives – where [former Israeli PM] Menachem Begin, [former Chief] Rabbi Kook, and Eliezer Ben-Yehuda [the main force behind the revival of the ancient Hebrew language] are buried – and giving up the Kotel [Western Wall], the Temple Mount and the Old City,” he declared.
Bennett emphasized that his party “will never agree to relinquish the notion of a united Jerusalem, under Israeli sovereignty and solely Israeli sovereignty. We will not tolerate a Palestinian terror state. We will not accept a deal based on the 1967 lines. We will not beg for land swaps, as if this were a game of ‘cut and paste’ on some Word document. We will not allow the border to run along Highway 6 and subject Highway 4 to rocket fire.”
“We will not be part of a government that yields to international pressure, risks our children’s future and divides our capital,” Bennett continued. “We will not be part of a government that makes easy and dangerous decisions.”
“How will history remember a leader who agrees to give up Jerusalem? How will it remember the first leader in Jewish history who dares to do that? And what’s more, to do it voluntarily?” Bennett asked.
Bennett, a member of the Diplomatic-Security Cabinet, told his audience that “these are crucial times for the State of Israel, and crucial times call for clear rhetoric.”
He also expressed opposition to Yisrael Beytenu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman’s proposal to swap areas in the Israeli Arab towns in Wadi Ara, southeast of Haifa, and the area northeast of Tel Aviv known as the “Triangle,” for equivalent territory in Judea and Samaria.
Bennett called on Prime Minister Netanyahu to resist international pressure, saying, “International pressure is nothing new. If we had given into international pressure in the past, [first Israeli PM] David Ben-Gurion would have never declared [the establishment of] the State of Israel.”
Author: Shoshana Kesner, Contributor, United with Israel
Date: Jan. 9, 2014