The Palestinian Authority would immediately be “overrun” by Hamas terrorists without Israel’s presence, warned Netanyahu.
By Associated Press and World Israel News Staff
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu explained on Wednesday that if it weren’t for Israeli troops in Judea and Samaria, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas would be deposed immediately by Hamas terrorists.
Netanyahu told a major Jewish conference that Israel doesn’t have the liberty to repeat its mistake in Gaza, where Hamas violently seized control from Abbas after Israeli forces withdrew from the coastal strip. Asked about his vision for Judea and Samaria, Netanyahu said he preferred to avoid labels such as “Palestinian state.”
But he did make clear his view that Abbas, known by his nickname Abu Mazen, and his Palestinian Authority owe their very existence to Israel’s protection, and directly benefit from the presence of Israeli troops.
“They’d be overrun in two minutes. A couple of years ago we uncovered a plot of 100 Hamas men to overthrow Abu Mazen. Overthrow? Kill him. Not kill him politically. Kill him. So, if we weren’t there, they’d not be there, which is exactly what happened when we left Gaza,” Netanyahu told an assembly of the Jewish Federation of North America.
Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005, forcing its citizens to leave their communities and pulling back all its troops. The following year, Hamas won parliamentary elections and a year after that, it violently overthrew forces loyal to Abbas. Hamas has since ruled the territory with an iron fist.
While Netanyahu agreed in 2009 to the idea of a demilitarized Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria, maintaining security control of the region remains an Israeli priority.
Israel continues security cooperation with Palestinian forces even though there haven’t been serious peace talks since Netanyahu took office in 2009. President Donald Trump, however, has promised to present a far-reaching and much-awaited peace plan of his own at some time.
Netanyahu’s comments appeared to indicate how far he’d be willing to go if forced to compromise in Judea and Samaria.
“[Abbas’ regime was] there in Gaza, they had 15,000 armed men, Hamas had 3,000. Within a few days they kicked him out and we can’t afford that happening in Judea and Samaria.”
“We left Gaza. What happened? This tiny thumb became a position of radical Islam supported by Iran and they fired 4,000 missiles on us.”