Behind closed doors, senior Likud officials are calling the rejectionist settlement leaders “irresponsible” and even “crazy.”
By Yehuda Shlezinger and Ariel Kahana, JNS
Two weeks before Israel plans to begin applying sovereignty in the Jordan Valley and parts of Judea and Samaria, some settlement leaders on Sunday continued to vocally oppose the Trump administration’s “Peace to Prosperity” plan, sparking harsh rebuke from Likud officials.
Behind closed doors, senior Likud officials are calling the rejectionist settlement leaders “irresponsible” and even “crazy.” They accuse them of disseminating false information about the maps of the areas designated for sovereignty, and of trying to torpedo a “historic opportunity.”
“After 70 years of anticipation, the settlers of all people will be the ones who ruin the historic possibility of applying sovereignty. They are hovering around members of Knesset, doing interviews in the press, coaching anyone they can against the plan, and they aren’t even completely familiar with all the details,” said one Likud official.
According to some senior Likud officials, the Trump administration has asked for clarifications in the wake of this opposition.
“The Americans are telling us something along these lines: ‘The entire Arab world is against the plan of the century, all the Europeans also oppose it, the American and Israeli left oppose it. And now even the [Israeli] right is against it—so why implement this plan at all? What can we answer in response?” said a Likud official.
One of the burning points of contention is the map issue. Over the past two weeks, settlement leaders who oppose the Trump plan have made the rounds to display a map that Likud officials say is not the right one.
“The main map the settlers are going around with is not the right map. The prime minister has more than 10 different maps; each one consists of a different scenario. The various maps were meant for the discussions with the Americans and it’s quite possible that ultimately parts of one map will be incorporated with parts of another map … In the meantime, [the settlement leaders] are walking around and misleading anyone they talk to,” said a Likud official.
One of the officials added that “if we don’t come away with Israeli sovereignty, it will only be because of the settlement leaders who oppose the plan. They’re crazy. Irresponsible. There never has been, and likely never will be, another administration as pro-Israel and pro-settlements as this one. If this doesn’t happen now, it will be a missed opportunity of historic proportions, and only the settlement leaders will be responsible.”
In the meantime, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz on Sunday called on the Trump administration to let Israel apply sovereignty in Judea and Samaria as it sees fit and without restrictions. In response to a Jerusalem Post article by Jason Greenblatt, U.S. President Donald Trump’s former envoy to the Middle East and an architect of the administration’s peace plan, Cruz tweeted: “Israel is an ally and a sovereign nation entitled to make this decision for itself. Far too many in America have been presumptuous in trying to dictate the terms of peace to them.”
Greenblatt, in his article, said Israel was within its rights to implement the sovereignty initiative. “It is not Palestinian land. It is land that is disputed, and the only way to resolve this is if the two sides can negotiate a settlement of the dispute directly together. But that has proven to be elusive. This is one of the main reasons we drafted the vision for peace in the manner that we did,” he wrote.
Israel and the United States, meanwhile, continue to discuss how to implement the sovereignty initiative in the coming months. On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi and Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin met at length with U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and other U.S. officials. No official statement was made following the meeting, and the sides are expected to hold additional talks over the coming days.
This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.