Netanyahu: Palestinians should have sovereignty, but not at our expense
Likud leader tells U.S. Jews that Israel must retain control of all borders, airspace and electronic traffic.
In his address before a delegation of visiting American Jewish leaders on Monday, Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu indicated that his offer to the Palestinians should he be appointed prime minister would be considerably less than a sovereign state.
Netanyahu told about 100 leaders from the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations that while he would not want to govern the Palestinians, Israel must maintain control of all borders, airspace and electronic traffic.
"Regardless how the solution is achieved, the Palestinians should run their lives," he said. "They should govern themselves, but they shouldn't have certain powers that would threaten the state of Israel."
Netanyahu also ruled out unilateral territorial pullbacks, charging that Israel's withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 has allowed the Islamic militant Hamas to take over the coastal territory.
Prior to Netanyahu's speech, the American Jewish delegation heard an address from Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, the leader of Kadima and Netanyahu's rival to the premiership.
The group has already met with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fisher during its visit, which began earlier this week. The delegates are also scheduled to speak with President Shimon Peres and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat over the coming days.
The group comprises 51 member organizations representing virtually all political and religious streams of America Jewry; from the Orthodox Union to the Union of Reform Judaism, as well as the American Friends of Likud and the local branches of Peace Now.