‘Palestinians never changed, never recognized Jewish state,’ says head of Israeli defense group

Israel must look out for its own interests and apply sovereignty in Judea and Samaria, said the head of the group made up of former Israeli officers.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The founder and head of a group of high-ranking retired Israeli officers said on Tuesday that the Palestinians have never recognized a Jewish state, and a recent interview with an adviser to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas proves it.

IDF Brig. Gen. (res.) Amir Avivi, who leads the group Protectors of Israel, or Ha-Bitonistim in Hebrew, told Israel’s Channel 20 that an interview they aired this week of Mahmoud Habash shows that the Palestinians never swerved from their goal of annihilating Israel.

Habash, the religious affairs adviser to Abbas, said, “We struggled and fought against you for a hundred years and have nothing preventing us from fighting you for another hundred years. All of Palestine is a project of resistance.”

Habash also said in the interview that Israel could call itself whatever it pleased, but he would never recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

Avivi responded, “We are finally hearing the truth – that in the last hundred years, and especially after the days of [the] Oslo [Accords], no matter all the concessions we made, what gestures we delivered, what retreats we carried out, the Palestinians haven’t budged a meter. They’ve stayed in exactly the same place.”

“They don’t recognize our right to exist as a Jewish state. When they say ‘two states,’ they mean a State of Palestine and a ‘state of all its citizens.’ There’s no such thing as a Jewish state from their point of view. It’s very serious,” he added.

Channel 20 aired its interview with Habash on Monday. The interview was the first time that a PA official publicly stated that the Palestinians would resort to violence if Israel carried out its plan to extend sovereignty over parts of Judea and Samaria and the Jordan Valley.

The interviewer, Baruch Yedid, head of Channel 20’s Arab affairs desk, no

Avivi said, “Right – they mean it and it’s about time that we internalize thisted that Habash had said that the conflict “was a battle for all of Palestine.”

The former brigadier general said that part of the answer lies in the Trump administration’s peace plan, as it looks at the conflict with fresh eyes.

Avivi, who once headed the Auditing and Consulting Department of the entire Israeli defense establishment, summarized the U.S. position as, “There’s no one to speak to, the Palestinians haven’t changed, let’s first of all give to Israel what it deserves, let’s break the status quo.”

“Exhibit leadership, and don’t get caught up in the corona [pandemic],” Avivi advised. “I think that corona has given us a golden opportunity, because the whole world is busy with it – the Palestinians as well.”

“It has to happen by September, before the Americans get into their elections,” he said, referring to a sovereignty move.

Protectors of Israel was founded in 2019 to promote Jewish sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and Judea and Samaria as areas essential to Israel’s current and future security needs. It has over a thousand members and counts high-ranking security officers from across the defense establishment, including the IDF, Mossad, Shabak and the police.

Its platform says that Israeli decisions should not be made due to threats of violence and terror, that Jordan and the PA have an overriding interest in keeping their relationship with Israel stable, and if they do not, Israel is strong enough to look after itself.