Daily Israel Report

Netanyahu's Statements Raise Fears of 'Disengagement'

PM 'doesn't want one state from Sea to Jordan, must separate from Palestinians,' after ruling out talks. MKs warn of unilateral steps.
By Ari Yashar
First Publish: 6/6/2014, 8:08 AM

Binyamin Netanyahu at Security and Defense Committee meeting
Binyamin Netanyahu at Security and Defense Committee meeting
Flash 90

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu reportedly made controversial statements in a closed meeting on Monday, saying "I don't want one state from the (Mediterranean) Sea to the Jordan (River)...we must separate from the Palestinians."

Journalist Ze'ev Kam of Makor Rishon on Friday exposed the statements that were made during a Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meeting. Several of the MKs who attended, both from the political right and left, reportedly called Netanyahu's statements dramatic and requiring clarification, and warned that they hinted plans for unilateral action.

The gist of Netanyahu's address to the Committee meeting was the necessity to "arrive at a separation from the Palestinians," specifically given his commitment not to negotiate with the new unity government formed between Fatah and the terrorist group Hamas on Monday.

"We won't talk with a government that Hamas is part of," Netanyahu reiterated in the Committee meeting.

Leftist MKs said to Netanyahu "let's say you're right and the Palestinians are guilty for the failure of the peace talks...what does Israel intend to do in this condition?"

"I don't want one state from the (Mediterranean) Sea to the Jordan (River). Even if the demographic balance doesn't change against us and there's a Jewish majority, it's still clear the Jewish majority must be well-established and that it be a democratic state. And therefore we have to reach a separation (from the Palestinians)," responded Netanyahu, causing a stir among the MKs in attendance.

According to Netanyahu, the benefits of such a separation would be that "this way we will have a secured Jewish majority and also a certain ability to maneuver towards part of the Arab nations of the world for a certain period of time."

MKs warn: Disengagement, part two

One MK, who remained unnamed, reportedly said after the meeting "Netanyahu spoke about the need for separation, a minute after clarifying that he won't hold peace talks with the Palestinians in the new situation that has been created."

"You have to wonder if these aren't Netanyahu's opening shots for a unilateral separation plan from the Palestinians - particularly since the statements came after some of the MKs asked him specifically about unilateral moves," continued the MK.

The MK emphasized the term "separation," remarking "pay attention to another point, this is exactly the same terminology that (former Prime Minister) Ariel Sharon used when he started moving in the direction of the disengagement from Gaza."

The talk of unilateral moves is particularly significant given that Netanyahu told Bloomberg View in mid-May "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."

While a senior official of Netanyahu's office told Arutz Sheva following the interview that Netanyahu was not planning any withdrawals, the new statements urging separation and only controlling a portion of Israel raises questions.

Netanyahu reportedly admitted in a meeting last month that he had submitted to US pressure and frozen construction in Judea and Samaria. He claimed that he was not aware that canceling the high planning council meetings of the IDF's Civil Administration, charged with managing the region, would completely prevent even the smallest development in the area.