PM: 'I'm Not Afraid of Difficult Decisions'
Steeling his party's MKs for the inevitable recriminations and criticism that will be hurled at the Likud when John Kerry and Tzipi Livni present their proposals for Israeli withdrawals from Judea and Samaria, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that his government was not there to make “easy decisions. True leadership is tested when it has to make difficult decisions.”
What the U.S. Secretary of State and Israel's Justice Minister have cooked up is impossible to know in advance of the official revelation of the proposed deal, but activists on the right are worried by comments and hints that have been dropped by various government officials.
On Sunday, hundreds of activists from Judea and Samaria, along with members of the Komemiyut organization protested the developing agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. According to the activists, the statements emerging from the government and from officials traveling with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry indicate that an interim agreement is near, and that it will likely be very damaging to the state of Israel, and to towns in Judea and Samaria.
Netanyahu said that the negotiations, and presumably the deal they would lead to, were a good thing for Israel.
“Israel has a strategic interest in the negotiations and in ending the conflict,” the Prime Minister told Likud MKs at a party meeting Monday. “Of course, we take into account the basic and necessary interests of the country, including the needs of settlers throughout the Land of Israel,” he added.
“We will sign an agreement only if it stands up to the test of these needs,” Netanyahu said. “Israel must be recognized as a Jewish state and the Palestinians must surrender the 'right of return' of descendants of those who fled the state in 1948. They must also surrender their other demands for additional parts of the Land of Israel” beyond what is agreed in a final-status deal, he said. In addition, Netanyahu added, an agreement would have to ensure that Israel could properly defend itself, “by ourselves, against all threats. If there is such a deal, I will present it for a referendum.”