Diskin: 'Too Many Jews' Living in Judea and Samaria
Former Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin attended Wednesday a conference honoring the 10-year anniversary of the Geneva Initiative in Tel Aviv, calling for Israel to adopt a two-state solution in upcoming negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.
Diskin stated that "the solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict is more existential than the solution to the Iranian nuclear program", and called for Israel to become a nation "which prefers the sanctity of its people over the sanctity of its land" and which "does not feel it has to occupy others' land."
Diskin maintained that the upcoming negotiations with the PA, as mediated by the US, presents a unique opportunity for the peace process. "Now is perhaps the last chance to reach a solution between the two countries. The Geneva Initiative lays down a proper infrastructure agreement," he maintained.
The plan, which was released in 2003, proposed a large-scale retreat from Judea and Samaria, and was backed by politicians from the extreme Left as well as PA representatives.
It called for over 100,000 Israeli citizens to be evicted from their homes, for Jerusalem to be divided, and for the Temple Mount - Judaism's holiest site - to be handed over to the Palestinian Authority.
The Initiative resembles other peace plans proposed throughout Israel's history (e.g. proposal's made at the 2000 Camp David summits), which have called for Israel to withdraw from the region in exchange for the PA's agreements to halt deadly violence and to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
In honor of the plan's anniversary, Diskin called for leaders to reconsider a two-state solution. "We cannot live in one state between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River and take turns being thorns in each other's sides," he declared.
But he also admitted that the number of Jews living in the area made it difficult in the future to evict Israelis from their homes in the event that a withdrawal demand becomes a condition of negotiations.
Over 600,000 Jews currently live in Judea and Samaria. In August, a study found that despite the severe restrictions imposed on Jewish communities in the region, they were still growing faster than the Jewish population elsewhere in Israel.
On the leadership of Prime Minister Netanyahu in promoting political negotiations, Diskin added that "the leaders on both sides, those who are supposed to lead, create hope and sweep the masses - are weak and busy blaming each other most of the time."
The conference was also attended by a staff member of the Palestinian Authority negotiating team Dr. Samih al-Abed, Chairman of the Geneva Initiative and former Justice Minister Yossi Beilin, UN envoy Robert Serry, Knesset members from various parties, mayors and members of the public.
US Secretary of State John Kerry is set to visit Israel this week to resume talks.
On Wednesday, US officials stated that they will present a proposal to dictate new terms for Israel's presence in Judea and Samaria. Deputy Defense minister Danny Danon has already responded that Israel will not compromise on its security - including land concessions. The Prime Minister's office declined to comment.