Daily Israel Report

'It's Israel's Turn to Take Unilateral Steps'

After reports surface that Netanyahu's 'unilateral steps' indicates a land withdrawal, Naftali Bennett turns the phrase on its head.
By Tova Dvorin
First Publish: 5/23/2014, 3:05 PM

Economy Minister Naftali Bennett
Economy Minister Naftali Bennett
Flash 90

Economics Minister and Jewish Home Chairman Naftali Bennett took to Facebook on Friday, in response to reports that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is considering taking "unilateral steps" to establish "a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state."

Bennett flipped the concept on its head, saying "I hear talk of 'Israel's unilateral actions.' I support that."

"We are pushing for applying Israeli law unilaterally over Gush Etzion, Ariel, the Jordan Valley, Ma'aleh Adumim, Ofra, Alfe Menashe, the Ben Gurion Airport envelope, Samaria, Judea, and the rest of the Jewish settlement enterprise," Bennett stated. "I will continue to push for it with all my might, until it happens. And it will happen. "

"The Arabs have decided that they will no longer come to the table," he continued. "The era of negotiations has ended. They are acting unilaterally (United Nations, incitement, etc.). Now it is our turn."

Bennett elaborated the "unilateral steps" he proposes in the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday.

There he proposed giving "Palestinians complete freedom of movement, which requires removing all roadblocks and checkpoints in the West Bank. In particular, Israel should dismantle the security barrier erected throughout the last decade to defend against Palestinian terror attacks during the Second Intifada."

Bennett further proposed Arab autonomy in Areas A and B, and the offering of full Israeli citizenship to Arab residents of Area C. Justice Minister Tzipi Livni slammed the proposal as "the end of Zionism."

Bennett has advocated for sovereignty over Judea and Samaria before, most notably in a viral video released shortly before his election to government.

More recently, he stated in March that the plan was at the top of his agenda, saying "give me the votes, and I will take care of it." 

What kind of 'unilateral steps'? 

Netanyahu made several comments indicating a "withdrawal" to Bloomberg reporter Jeffrey Goldberg last week, in an interview released Thursday. 

"It’s true that the idea of taking unilateral steps is gaining ground, from the center-left to the center-right. Many Israelis are asking themselves if there are certain unilateral steps that could theoretically make sense," the prime minister said. 

Interviewer Jeffrey Goldberg reported that Netanyahu insinuated a "disengagement" from parts of Judea and Samaria, "even if this means uprooting Jewish settlements."

Senior officials from the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) denied that this was Netanyahu's intention, claiming the quotations had been twisted. 

Netanyahu didn't say at any point in the interview that he is considering to conduct withdrawals, and more than that he emphasized the danger of unilateral withdrawals as seen in the 2005 disengagement plan (from Gaza)," the official told Arutz Sheva Friday.