'The Kerry Plan? Don't Worry about It'
MK Tzahi Hanegbi (Likud), who is close to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, assured readers in an Arutz Sheva interview Monday that the US's framework for peace - which has not been formally unveiled - has been formulated carefully and will not lead to real political upheaval in Israel.
"I assume that, over the next few weeks, the picture will become clearer," Hanegbi stated. "Both sides will discover what this 'hidden animal,' the US framework, entails."
When asked how much the US framework could affect Israel's own internal politics, Hanegbi brushed concerns over a floundering coalition aside.
"According to the statements I am hearing, the framework is not meant to really shake us," he said. "This is a document which does not obligate either side to anything and is not supposed to go up for a vote in a major forum like the government or the Knesset."
"There are some people, within the Likud and within the coalition, for whom negotiations in their own right create natural tensions," he continued. "If I were their psychological advisor I would tell those people to relax. We stand behind the Prime Minister, who is the most influential person on the political scene, and his stances on the issues are very clear."
"He has set certain principles based on a general consensus in the Knesset, in the government, and in the Israeli public, and I have trouble seeing the Palestinians respond to even one of those red lines," he added.
One of these "red line" issues, he noted, is the Israeli demand that the future Palestinian state recognize Israel as a Jewish state. Contrary to some MKs, who believe that the demand is unnecessary, Hanegbi maintained that Netanyahu "is very determined on this issue."
Regarding the actual contents of the document, and how it may or may not differ from traditional American stances on the issues, Hanegbi maintained that "the drafters were very careful to choose terms that both sides could live with" and that "this is a guiding principle" for the framework.
Hanegbi could not detail the document's exact contents - but did say that the Prime Minister "does not disagree" with the insights provided in that document.
"The whole idea of the Americans [being involved] is to maintain discretion regarding the exact terms until there is complete satisfaction with the document being produced by their hands," the MK stated. "I suppose the Prime Minister knows more about it than we do and he has not been initiating discussions on the topic."
In January, Thomas Friedman of the New York Times published some alleged details of the plan, which, he said, will call for a phased Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria based on the 1949 lines, with "unprecedented" security arrangements in the strategic Jordan Valley.
The Israeli withdrawal will not include certain settlement blocs, but Israel will compensate the Arab side for this with Israeli territory.
The deal will call for “Palestine” to have a capital in Arab East Jerusalem and to recognize Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people. It will not include any right of return for Palestinian refugees into pre-1967 Israel, Friedman said.
Martin Indyk, the US Envoy to the Middle East, later revealed to American Jewish leaders that 75 to 80 percent of the Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria would remain in their homes even after a permanent agreement. The agreement will include a reference to the incitement against Israel in the Palestinian Authority (PA) and will also include a reference to compensation for Jewish refugees who came from Arab countries.
In addition, the PA would recognize Israel as a Jewish state, Israel would recognize the Palestinian state, and the two sides will announce the end of the conflict.