Min. Uzi Landau
Min. Uzi LandauIsrael news photo: Flash 90

Whether or not he meant it in the spirit it was interpreted, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu should not use terms like “unilateral” in discussions and interviews on Israel's political situation, said Tourism Minister Uzi Landau. Speaking at Sunday's cabinet meeting, Landau said that using such terms “will just cause more pressure to be piled up on us from the Europeans and Americans, and embolden the Palestinians to attack us as well.”

Landau was referring to an interview Netanyahu conducted last week with Jeffrey Goldberg of Bloomberg View. Speaking about the failed peace talks with the Palestinian Authority (PA), Netanyahu reiterated that he wants "a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state." Given the failure of the negotiations, he hinted that he is considering unilateral moves. "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," said Netanyahu.

Goldberg interpreted this to mean that Netanyahu was prepared to conduct a "disengagement" from parts of Judea and Samaria, "even if this means uprooting Jewish settlements." However, a senior Israeli official told Arutz Sheva that the insinuation was purely made by the interviewer, saying "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)."

Landau said that using terms like “unilateral,” regardless of how Netanyahu meant it, was just a recipe for trouble. “Use of the term itself will be seen as a signal that Israel is ready to withdraw from Judea and Samaria,” Landau added, giving an impression he is sure Netanyahu was not intending.