MKs from the Likud party expressed doubts on Sunday that the current round of peace talks with the Palestinian Authority would lead to any peace agreement.
Water and Energy Minister Silvan Shalom, who spoke at a conference of Likud activists in Tel Aviv, said, "We are now marking 20 years since the Oslo agreement which was a total failure that only caused deaths and injuries. The thought that it will be possible to reach an agreement with the Palestinians within nine months is no more than a delusion," he added, referring to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s hopes that the peace talks could end within nine months.
"I do not believe this government can offer any more than what [former Prime Minister Ehud] Olmert offered, and I hope it will not lead to an explosion," Shalom said, referring to an offer made by Olmert to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in 2008. Olmert offered to withdraw from roughly 94 percent of Judea and Samaria and compensate the PA with the equivalent of 6 percent through a "land swap" that would allow Israel to keep major communities in the region. Olmert also proposed international administration of Jerusalem's holy sites.
Abbas never formally responded to Olmert’s offer, essentially rejecting it.
Also playing down the possibility of a peace agreement on Sunday was Deputy Foreign Minister Zeev Elkin, who spoke during a toast in honor of the Jewish New Year.
Referring to the 20th anniversary of the Oslo Accords, Elkin said, "It is time to ask if there is there a reason to celebrate. Since the establishment of the State of Israel, 2,500 people were killed in terror attacks, 1,500 of which were killed after the Oslo Accords. The numbers speak for themselves. We now realize that Oslo began the very era of tears and blood that Rabin wanted to bring to an end as he stood on the White House lawn. It’s enough to visit families in Be’er Sheva, Ashkelon and Ashdod and ask them if they believed that within 20 years they will become the target of the threat of tens of thousands of missiles? They would’ve told me back then I'm not normal.”
Elkin emphasized, "Today we say we will not surrender the security of Israel. Agreements do not always bring peace or security, sometimes they just bring more blood. Today it is already well-known that the reason for the conflict is not the settlements, despite what they tell us. There was a conflict long before there were settlements. Then and now, their goal has always been to get rid of us.”
“They ask to free murderers to promote peace, pay high salaries to terrorist prisoners, these are just some examples that prove that there is no change in their position,” said Elkin, going on to quote remarks made in 1993 by then-Opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu at the Likud central convention, "The Palestinians will enjoy all the rights except for one right: the right to destroy the State of Israel. Autonomy - yes. A state - no.”
Elkin continued, “Netanyahu went on to say that we should not be alarmed that the international community does not see eye to eye with us regarding the Palestinians. And he concluded by saying what is so true even today: Yes to a Palestinian state means no to a Jewish state and yes to a Jewish state means no to a Palestinian state.”