Israeli Defense Minister: There'll Be No Peace, West
Bank Can Hold Millions of More Settlers
By Chaim Levinson
- Former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon expressed
support on Thursday for continued Palestinian
autonomy in parts of the West Bank, but not
independence, and said the territory could hold one
or two million additional Jewish settlers.
After speaking at a religious girls’ school in Beit
Shemesh on Thursday, Ya’alon was asked his views
about Israel’s 2005 withdrawal from the Gaza Strip
and about evacuation of Jewish settlements more
Ya’alon said that as army chief of staff he had
opposed the withdrawal. “My home is the kibbutz,” he
said. “The border is marked by the furrows of the
plow. The border is marked by the children’s house.
Where there is no children’s house, there is no
army. If you want to hold territory, you need for
there to be people living there.”
Turning his attention to the peace process with the
Palestinians, he said: “On one hand, I don’t see
prospects for a [peace] agreement in the foreseeable
future. The gap between us is not bridgeable. They
have not agreed to any proposal to divide the land.
They are not prepared even to accept a state along
the 1967 borders and a division of Jerusalem. From
their standpoint, that’s just 22 percent of
Palestine,” he said.
foresee that they will have a leadership that will
want to divide the land,” adding that he doesn’t
foresee it among the leadership of Fatah, which
controls the Palestinian Authority, or among Hamas,
based in the Gaza Strip.
other hand,” he said, “I don’t want a binational
state,” noting that the Palestinians already have
autonomy. “I say we will not evacuate Jews or Arabs.
On the map that already exists at the moment, we can
protect our interest that there not be a binational
state. There won’t be settlers on every hilltop.”
Referring to the West Bank by its biblical name, the
former defense minister said: “There is enough room
in Judea and Samaria to settle one or two million
more people in locations that suit us through a
policy not to become a binational state. This is
done through a policy that is thought out, not
through illusions. The illusion of peace has now
evaporated. The illusion of a Greater Land of Israel
has also evaporated,” a reference to Israel’s
remaining in control of all of the West Bank.
“Between the two, we need to find a way for [the
Palestinians] to live in political autonomy, not
voting for the Knesset but rather for their own
parliament. There isn’t peace now here. There won’t
be. We need to manage things wisely, looking to our
interests. That’s true [with regard] to a
Palestinian state, Syria [and] Lebanon. If we
conduct things wisely, there will be unprecedented
Ya'alon also said that since becoming Labor Party
chairman in July, Avi Gabbay has been pressuring him
to join the party.
Gabbay was the environmental protection minister,
representing Kulanu, when he resigned in 2016 to
protest Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s firing
Ya’alon and replacing him with Avigdor Lieberman.
Gabbay has said privately he has no political
differences with Ya’alon.
Levinson is a Haaretz correspondent, covering the
Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Previously, he
was the Yedioth Ahoronot correspondent for Religious
Affairs and the Orthodox communities.
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