B. Begin: PA Seeks Israel's End

Cabinet Min. Dr. Benny Begin praises PM Netanyahu for not giving in on settlement construction, says PA continues to seek Israel’s destruction.

Hillel Fendel, | updated: 17:45

Cabinet Minister Benny Begin
Cabinet Minister Benny Begin
Israel news photo

Cabinet Minister Dr. Benny Begin, a member of the seven-minister security cabinet, praises Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for not giving in on settlement construction - and says there is no chance for negotiations while the Palestinian Authority continues to seek Israel’s destruction.

Begin spoke Monday with Israel National News about the issue at a tent camp demonstration by Judea and Samaria community leaders who camped outside government offices in Jerusalem to protest the construction freeze. 

Email readers, please click here to see the video report.

The minister also spoke earlier in the day with IDF Army Radio in the wake of what appears to be a diplomatic victory for Israel: successful American pressure on PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to participate in a three-way summit with U.S. President Obama and Netanyahu, even though the latter has not agreed to freeze Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria.
The PA agreed before Annapolis that Jewish construction would continue.

Begin said under the circumstances, “I believe that the Prime Minister has displayed noteworthy standing power and navigational ability.”

US Not Prepared to Serve Up Israel's Head on a Plastic Platter
Asked if he believes that U.S. President Obama was “somewhat naïve” in his approach to the Middle East, Begin responded, “No, I think that the Palestinian Authority and some Arab nations misunderstood the U.S. and European nations. They thought that the West would like to give them Israel’s head on a cheap plastic platter. This could not have happened, and therefore did not happen.”

Interviewer Razi Barkai then asked, “Why do you think that freezing the settlements is like giving away Israel’s head on a cheap plastic platter?” 

Begin, son of the late Prime Minister Menachem Begin and a Land of Israel ideologue, explained: “Because the settling of the Land by Jews in Judea and Samaria is, first of all, a fulfillment of our natural historic right to our land. This right does not end in Tel Aviv, Hadera or even in Eilat. The opposite would be the destruction of our culture.”

Barkai: "Nobody contests this right, but the problem is that these areas are not empty, and therefore this right comes at the expense of another people."

Historic and Legal Rights
Begin: “No, this is incorrect. The most that can be said is that the areas are in legal dispute - and it was resolved long ago that we have more rights in these areas…"

"But returning to politics," Begin said, "I believe that what former Prime Minister [Ehud] Olmert wrote in the Washington Post two months ago is valuable. Olmert wrote that the focus on settlements is incorrect, and that in fact the Annapolis summit was held in November 2007 on the unambiguous premise that settlement construction would continue. 'Let me be clear,' Olmert wrote. 'Without those understandings, the Annapolis process would not have taken on any form. Therefore, the focus on settlement construction now is not useful.'"
Emphasis on stopping settlements "unjustly skews the focus from a true political process and from dealing with the real strategic issues confronting the region.”

Olmert further wrote that “to this day, I cannot understand why the Palestinian leadership did not accept the far-reaching and unprecedented proposal I offered them. My proposal included a solution to all outstanding issues: territorial compromise, security arrangements, Jerusalem and refugees.”

To insist now on a complete freeze on settlement construction, Olmert wrote, will not contribute to security, efforts to build PA institutions, mobility for PA Arabs or weakening Hamas, but rather “unjustly skews the focus from a true political process and from dealing with the real strategic issues confronting the region.”

Barkai then asked Begin point-blank: “We know what you want from the Palestinians, but what are you willing to give them?”

Begin answered: “We’re not at that point. There is simply no point in discussing this when not only do they take impossible positions such as not recognizing Israel as a Jewish state, but they keep adding obstacles such as the one I’m about to mention, about which I can say that if they don’t revoke it, it will be impossible to get anywhere in negotiations. 

"Just a month ago, the moderate arm of the PLO, Fatah, publicized its goals, stating, ‘The armed revolution of the Arabic Palestinian nation is a decisive factor in the fight for the liberation and the liquidation of the Zionist presence. This struggle will not end until after the liquidation of the Zionist entity and the liberation of Palestine.’  Now I know that the thousands of drivers stuck in traffic jams probably were not able to get all of that, so let me read it again at dictation speed –"

“They know this clause, Mr. Begin!”, Barkai tried to interrupt, but Begin continued unruffled and emphatically: “…will not end until after the liquidation of the Zionist entity and the liberation of Palestine. This clause was ratified just a month ago at the Fatah conference.”

Barkai: “But you know that there is a difference between party platforms and signed international agreements such as Annapolis and the Roadmap, which include recognition of two states.”

Begin: “If what you are saying is correct – and not only you, but others who totally refuse to recognize reality, and refuse to grow up and mature vis-à-vis the situation of the Middle East – then there would have been an agreement long ago!  There can be no government in Israel, or any Israeli public that would approve a more generous offer than Olmert offered the Palestinian Authority at Annapolis – and yet the PA turned it down! And why did the PA turn it down? In an interview with the Washington Post this past May, Abbas actually gave this astonishing answer: ‘The gaps were too wide.’ 

"Keep in mind what Abbas was offered: The ‘right of return’ in principle according to his interpretation, 97-98% of Judea and Samaria, meaning that the overwhelming majority of the Jewish towns would no longer be there - and he was also offered the end of Israeli sovereignty in the Jerusalem area known as the Holy Basin, meaning the Temple Mount, the Mount of Olives, the Western Wall, and the City of David – and regarding this he said that the gaps were too wide!”

Begin concluded, “If Abbas does not announce his renunciation of the program that his Fatah approved just last month, there can be no progress at all in the negotiations. We must look reality in the eye, and not deny it any longer, and stand united and realize what we are up against.

"To say that there is no chance for a peace agreement given the platform of this government, as I read frequently in the papers, is an example of a truth that is a lie. Because it’s not only the Likud; no Israeli government, not even if it would be run by Meretz, can meet the conditions being set by this organization calling for the liberation of all Palestine and the liquidation of the Zionist entity,” Begin said.

Some in the Administration Agree With Begin
IDF Army Radio correspondent Ilil Shachar reported that none of the participants in this week's New York summit view the gathering as the start of genuine negotiations. She further stated that special U.S. envoy George Mitchell is concerned at his lack of progress in jump-starting the negotiations, and that many in the Administration in general are beginning to feel that the American emphasis on “Jewish settlements” was misplaced.