Science and Space Minister Ofir Akunis (Likud) spoke with Yisrael Hayom Journalist Boaz Bismont at the Israeli-American Council (IAC) conference in Washington, D.C., and took the opportunity to comment on remarks made two years ago by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas that didn't get enough attention relative to their importance, in Akunis' opinion.
"Two years ago, I heard Mahmoud Abbas say that the Palestinian state, listen carefully to what he said, the Palestinian state would be 'clean of Jews.' Clean of Jews! And I don't remember anyone, not in Israel, not in the international community, who said something about this extreme statement."
The use of the term "clean" for an area in which there are no longer any Jews was a staple of Nazi propaganda and anti-Semitic rhetoric everywhere.
Minister Akunis went on to describe what making any future Palestinian state "clean of Jews" would entail in practice.
"It means that almost 1 million Israelis from Judea and Samaria and the surrounding neighborhood in Jerusalem [meaning the areas of Jerusalem that are beyond the 'green line'] would not be there. What do you think that would mean?"
Akunis was responding to a question about Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's recent comments to the effect that the Palestinians were pursuing an "ethnic cleansing" of a future Palestinian state.
Besmont then asked about the coming Jewish new year. "If I tell you 'Shana Tova' (a good year), would you say 'indeed', or will you say 'we'll see'?"
"No no no," Akunis retorted, "I'm very optimistic about Israel. I think that Israel, with all due respect to the States, and all other countries in the world, is the best place. And not only for Jews. Of course for Jews, because it's our homeland, but not only for Jews. For Arabs, for other minorities, for whoever lives in Israel, this is the best place to live. I believe in Israel."
The Israeli-American Council (IAC), is an organization that has as its mission statement the effort "to build an engaged and united Israeli-American community that strengthens the Israeli and Jewish identity of our next generations, the American Jewish community, and the bond between the peoples of the United States and the State of Israel."