In what may be a record, in a Bloomberg video interview this Tuesday, Intelligence and Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz repeated three times, in less than 8 minutes of the interview, that withdrawing from Judea and Samaria under today’s conditions would be “like committing suicide.”
Steinitz focused on differentiating between the current Palestinian terrorist rocket risk from Gaza after Israel withdrew from there, and the risk that would be posed from Judea and Samaria if they were similarly abandoned.
The effect of terrorist rocket attacks on sparsely inhabited areas around Gaza is extremely different from the effect that similar attacks from Judea and Samaria would have, he explained. To take a “similar risk [from the West Bank] to the country’s center [Tel Aviv], to us, this is like committing suicide.”
Minister Steinitz delineated a new “Gaza First” approach, whereby the Palestinian Authority (PA) under Mahmoud Abbas must first wrest military control of Gaza from Hamas and Islamic Jihad and establish law and order.
After such a showing by Abbas, Israel would evaluate the situation in Gaza to see if it can remain stable. And if the Palestinian Arabs show that they “can control themselves” first in Gaza, then Israel could determine if they could be trusted with the “West Bank.”
Steinitz was further elaborating what Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu stated in his September 29 UN General assembly speech: “Israel cannot have territories from which it withdraws taken over by Islamic militants yet again, as happened in Gaza and Lebanon. That would place the likes of ISIS within mortar range, a few miles, of 80% of our population.”
Unless the Palestinian Arabs “are capable of proving to the Israelis, to themselves, and to the world that what happened after the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza...cannot repeat itself in the West Bank...to take the similar risk to the country’s center – this to us this is like committing suicide,” said Steinitz.
At another point, he stated again: “For Israel to take the risk that after a similar withdrawal from, at least, large parts of the West Bank, what happened in Gaza, what happened in Iraq, or in Syria, or in Libya, won’t happen in the West Bank, this is like committing suicide, it’s an existential threat.”
And he added a third time, a few minutes later: “Nobody can ask Israel to commit suicide.”
Many estimate that Steinitz’s “Gaza First” requirements are unlikely to ever be met by the PA. In fact, there’s a much better chance that Hamas will first take over control of Judea and Samaria, as the group recently had a coup attempt against the PA in the region foiled by the IDF.