Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel must exercise “overriding” security control of the West Bank in any two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In an interview with CNN, Netanyahu addressed President Donald Trump’s seeming endorsement of the two-state solution during a meeting between the two men on Wednesday.
“Israel has to have the overriding security,” in any political arrangement with the Palestinians, he said, “not the UN, not Canadian Mounties, not — I don’t know — Austrian or Australian forces — Israeli forces have to have the security control, otherwise that place will be taken over by Islamist terrorists, either ISIS or Hamas or Iran, all of the above. And that’s my condition.”
“People say, ‘Was that commensurate with a state?’” he added. “I don’t know, you decide. … I want the Palestinians to govern themselves, but not to be able to threaten us.”
“I’ve discovered that, if you use labels, you’re not going to get very far because different people mean different things when they say ‘states.’ So rather than talk about labels, I’d like to talk about substance,” he said.
Netanyahu has consistently stood by his demand for Israeli security control over the West Bank for some time.
Nonetheless, the prime minister said he will examine President Donald Trump’s upcoming peace plan with “a keen and open mind, because I know there’s great friendship to Israel.”
“The question of what happens, you know, precisely, when he puts it out depends on — I’ll look at it,” he added. “In fact, I was — you know, I always said that I’m willing to look at peace proposals put forward by the United States.”
Meeting with Netanyahu on Wednesday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, Trump told reporters, “I like two-state solution. I like two-state solution. That’s what I think works best. I don’t even have to speak to anybody, that’s my feeling.”
Trump had previously stated that he would support whatever solution the Israelis and Palestinians agreed to. Shortly after his Wednesday statement, he appeared to return to this position, saying, “If the Israelis and the Palestinians want one state, that’s OK with me. If they want two-state, that’s OK with me. I’m happy if they’re happy.”
Netanyahu faced some domestic friction after Trump’s Wednesday statement, with Education Minister Naftali Bennett, a key member of his government, asserting, “The president of the US is a true friend of Israel. Nonetheless, it is important to emphasize that a Palestinian state, which would be a disaster for Israel, will not be established as long as we are in the government.”
In response, the prime minister reiterated his security demands, saying, “Make no mistake: Israel will not give up on security control west of the Jordan (river) as long as I am prime minister. I think the Americans accept that principle.”
The Algemeiner (c) 2018 Benjamin Kerstein