In a speech before the Knesset’s plenum in its special Herzl Day session, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu laid down five conditions for a peace treaty with the Palestinian Authority Arabs. These are:
- The Palestinians must recognize Israel as the Jewish nation’s state.
- The treaty must be an end to the conflict.
- The Arab refugee problem must be solved outside of Israel’s borders.
- A Palestinian state will have to be demilitarized and a peace treaty must safeguard Israel’s security.
- The settlement blocs will remain within the state of Israel and Jerusalem will remain its united capital.
Netanyahu’s speech can be seen as an accurate indication of what he intends to say when he addresses the U.S. Congress next Tuesday. It is unlikely that he will go back on any of the principles he laid down, given the venue: a Herzl Day address before the Knesset plenum. Fearing that the prime minister intended to announce concessions in Washington, MKs within Likud had demanded that Netanyahu address Israelis before he goes to the U.S..
Based on Monday's speech, the prime minister does not appear to be planning any retreat from previous positions, and may even have toughened his stance somewhat, although this is arguable.
By and large, the speech does not depart from the one he delivered at Bar Ilan University in June 2009. In that speech as in the latest one, Netanyahu said that a PA state would be demilitarized, and that Israel would require security arrangements in a peace treaty. He also said that Jerusalem would remain united as Israel’s capital and that Arab refugees would be resettled outside Israel.
The condition added by Netanyahu in this speech is Israel’s retention of the large settlement blocs. In the Bar Ilan speech, Netanyahu said that the territorial issues would be determined in negotiations and that until then, Israel would not be building new settlements or expropriating land in Judea and Samaria.
In Monday’s speech he was less defensive and more confident on this issue, raising the ante and announcing that Israel would insist on keeping the large settlement blocs in its possession.