Hatnua MK Meir Sheetrit said in an interview Thursday that he “hoped” that the United States would force Israel to accept the peace deal that Secretary of State John Kerry was putting together. Being backed into a corner and heavily pressured by the U.S., Sheetrit said, was the only way Israel and the Palestinian Authority would “swallow their medicine” and enter into a deal that would benefit them both.
Few details have been made public of Kerry’s proposed framework, though 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.
In an interview with Arutz Sheva, Sheetrit said that he did not see the call for American pressure as “unpatriotic,” because “I trust that the Americans will act in Israel's interests.” Israel, he added, did not need to worry that the Obama administration would take any “short cuts” on Israel's security just to put a deal together. “In any agreement we will be able to defend ourselves,” he said.
The last time Israel withdrew from territory it was “treated” to an ongoing barrage of missile and rocket attacks – still ongoing – from Gaza, but Sheetrit is convinced that will not happen if Israel withdraws from Judea and Samaria. “The problem in Gaza is not one of missiles, but of Israeli policy,” he said. “About this it is said in Jewish sources that 'he who comes to kill you, kill him first.'”
But the fact that Jewish tradition also speaks out against abandoning parts of the Land of Israel is not a concern of Sheetrit's. “In fact, some would say the opposite, that withdrawing from land to preserve life is preferable.” Nothing, he said, could be gained from a religious debate on a matter which was security-related at is core.
Sheetrit, who was in the past a Likud MK, said that he has always thought that Israel needed to withdraw from most of Judea and Samaria. “I never hid this,” he said. “It is in Israel's interests to achieve a peace deal.”