Netanyahu attempts to calm right-wing worries over Trump plan

Netanyahu said that the issues of annexation and a Palestinian state are separate.

By David Isaac, World Israel News

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has told his constituents that he considers himself duty-bound to fulfill his pledge to apply sovereignty within Judea and Samaria, attempted to assuage right-wing critics of the plan.

In an interview with the weekly Makor Rishon on Friday, which caters to a generally right-of-center  audience, Netanyahu said that he never promised to agree to a Palestinian state when he accepted the Trump administration’s Mideast peace plan.

To the question, “Will the government decision on sovereignty include a statement on the matter of a Palestinian state?” Netanyahu said that the two “issues are separate.” There wouldn’t be any decision regarding the recognition of a Palestinian state, he said. “As I said in Washington, I am prepared to conduct negotiations on the basis of the Trump plan.”

He noted that the conditions the Trump plan places on the Palestinians are high from their perspective. They include giving up the ‘right of return,’ Israeli security control in the territories, demilitarizing Hamas, recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s united capital and an end to incitement.

The interviewer, Hagai Segal, editor of the paper, said Netanyahu had difficulty understanding the opposition among some residents of Judea and Samaria. Segal said Netanyahu compared their opposition to that of Palestinians in the past who had rejected various generous offers because they didn’t include places like Jaffa and Kfar Saba (a city in central Israel).

Netanyahu said that what was most important about the Trump plan was that it signaled a complete reversal from what had been the default position of U.S. administrations “and for the better.”

“Past American governments wanted us to uproot settlements, between 80 to 100,000 people. They spoke about us shrinking more or less to the ’67 borders. Now there’s a huge change in attitude, and I’m proud of it.

“There never was a political step which expanded our territory with the agreement of our friend the U.S., or at least there never was such a thing until the recognition of President Trump of our sovereignty on the Golan Heights. All this comes as a result of conversations that were carried out [with the Americans], and I very much appreciate the decision that the president made,” Netanyahu said.