Haaretz reports on a meeting of the Likud Knesset faction today where Benjamin Netanyahu opened up about the US-led negotiations. After saying he had no intention of giving up Hebron, which is outside the Israeli Separation Wall in the West Bank, he made it clear he really has no end game in mind when it comes to the Palestinians. He doesn’t want them in Israel and he has no way to get rid of them. For Netanyahu the situation boils down to this – “there are two million Palestinians and the question is what we do with them”:
He also said he has “no solution” for how to prevent Israel from becoming a binational state while also ensuring that a Palestinian state won’t become a base for Iran or Al-Qaida. . . .
“The reason why we’re willing to reach this agreement isn’t because we’re denying our history, but because there are two million Palestinians and the question is what we do with them,” he said. “There’s a problem that the Palestinians are there, and I have no intention of removing them. It’s impractical and inappropriate. I don’t want a binational state, and I don’t want them as either citizens or subjects. On the other hand, I don’t want another Iranian state or Al-Qaida state. Currently, we have no solution.”
Netanyahu also made clear that even if Palestinians meet his demand to recognize Israel as a Jewish state it won’t be enough:
“Even if there is some minimal commitment to recognize the Jewish state, there’s still no guarantee that the incitement against us would change,” Netanyahu said. “We saw what happened when we closed our eyes and evacuated settlements. We need a foothold in the territory, plus security arrangements that will ensure that the territory won’t be handed over to hostile elements.”
The answer here would then seem to be endless occupation.
But, in a sign of the times, Netanyahu does seem more progressive than some of his Israeli counterparts. It’s sadly notable that he shot down the possibility of removing Palestinians from the West Bank as “impractical and inappropriate” (not exactly the principled rejection you’d hope for). And yes, Avigdor Lieberman’s proposal to remove Palestinians from Israel is still on the table, although Netanyahu seemed to distance himself from it:
During the meeting, Netanyahu was asked about the possibility that an agreement with the Palestinians could include an exchange of populations and territory – something Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has advocated repeatedly, most recently just this week. “That’s the foreign minister’s position, but not the American position,” Netanyahu replied.
(h/t Nima Shirazi)