'Trump internalized what Netanyahu didn't get'

MK Betzalel Smotrich pleased with Trump decision to eliminate UNRWA. In A7 interview he explains concern over too-powerful Likud.

Hezki Baruch ,

'Trump understands my rationale'
'Trump understands my rationale'
Eliran Aharon

Knesset Member Betzalel Smotrich (Jewish Home) estimates the US administration's measures against UNRWA and the issue of the Palestinian "refugees" will not be the last to decide controversial issues between Israel and the Arabs.

"The latest moves by President Trump, including rumors of a proposal for a confederation with Jordan, are important because they show thinking outside the box and the understanding that attempts to repeat what we've talked about for 40 or 50 years don't lead us anywhere," Smotrich said in an interview with Arutz Sheva.

"Trump understands the rationale I published in the decision plan that says we shouldn't nurture illusions, but rather decide: The issues of Jerusalem and the refugees are two zero-sum issues - it's us or them - the Arabs oppose our connection to Jerusalem because they deny our right to the Land of Israel. Trump told them, 'Forget about it, I'm deciding.' The same is happening with the refugees."

"Our role," adds Smotrich, "is to help Trump understand that Jerusalem and the refugees are a sign - not a cause. They're a sign that any Palestinian nationalism would in effect negate Jewish existence, and here too he will decide. Trump wants to stop foot-dragging, stop selling illusions; put it on the table and cut. He also understands that the classic two-state model won't work."

He also has harsh criticism of Supreme Planning Committee and political echelon conduct regarding approving construction in Judea and Samaria: "I feel like a beggar who the Prime Minister throws a few housing units to. It's impossible not to notice the enormous gap between the change that the American administration is undergoing and the conceptual fixation that still characterizes the Prime Minister and his environment. I want to hope that what Trump has internalized, Netanyahu will internalize, because Israeli society certainly internalized it."

Smotrich was asked if he believed there was a danger to the Right if the Likud won 40 seats in the elections and replied, "We live in a democratic state and it's our job to use the great pressure levers. I'm in agreement with Minister Bennett's statement that Likud mustn't be too strong. A strong Likud is a danger to the Right, to the Land of Israel, and to settlement. We need a leading Likud as a ruling party, not too strong, and next to it a big, strong, ideological Right party - with a backbone and roots - to ensure the next right-wing government formed will be a real right-wing government that will regulate settlement."

"Our job is to ensure that there aren't 40 seats for the Likud and that there will be at least 15 Knesset seats for Jewish Home, so there'll be a healthy balance of power in the next government," Smotrich adds.

Asked how he responds to MK Lapid's statement that he will win the next elections, the MK replied, "There's something nice about imagining. Yair Lapid has been immersed in imagination for a long time. The people of Israel understand that our way is the right path. Yair Lapid will be in the opposition for many more years and we wish him success."