Netanyahu 'Separation' Quote that Worried Nationalists – Denied
An angry MK Ze'ev Elkin (Likud-Beytenu), head of the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, denied Sunday a reporter's version of statements allegedly made in the committee last week by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. According to the report in Makor Rishon, Netanyahu told MKs he would like to “part” from the Palestinian Arabs, in a way that caused nationalists to worry that he was planning a unilateral withdrawal similar to the 2005 Disengagement from Gaza.
Makor Rishon claimed that Netanyahu said: “I do not want to have one state [stretching] from the [Mediterranean] sea to the Jordan. Even if the demographic balance is not shifting to our disadvantage and there is a Jewish majority, it is still obvious that the Jewish majority needs to be a clear one, and therefore we must reach a separation.”
MK Elkin was upset that discussions at the committee, whose sessions are supposed to be secret, were leaked. He claimed, however, that the news report was “very exaggerated” in any case, and that Netanyahu did not say anything at the session that had not been said on previous occasions.
"Anyone who thinks that the new Disengagement plan was born at this session – well, those things are untrue,” Elkin stated. The context in which the statements were made was not one from which one could glean that Netanyahu was mulling a Disengagement-type move, he insisted.
Elkin conceded that Netanyahu is concerned about the prospect of a binational state, and that this concern led him to conduct negotiations with the PA recently – a move Elkin opposes. The MK further explained that he would like to see Israel applying sovereignty in Judea and Samaria, and change the idea into one that has mainstream legitimacy, as the left wing succeeded in doing with the two-state plan.
Contrary to the report in Makor Rishon, he added, the atmosphere in the committee room was calm after Netanyahu uttered the controversial words, and it was leftist MKs who attacked Netanyahu, accusing him of veering to the right after the failure of “peace talks.”