Zvi Hauser, one of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's closest and most trusted advisers, has told Haaretz that forcing 150,000 settlers to leave their homes in the West Bank is "a fantasy" and has warned that any government that agrees to do so risks polarizing Israeli society.
In an expansive and exclusive interview, Hauser – whose four-year stint as cabinet secretary ended in May – said that the Jewish people's "connection to Judea and Samaria does not resemble the French ties to Algeria or the British ties to the Falkland Islands. We are talking about the formative territory of the Jewish people and of Jewish civilization, from which the State of Israel arose The time has come to understand that there will not be mass evacuation of settlers here, nor need there be," he added.
And in the same week that the third Netanyahu government entered into renewed peace talks with the Palestinian Authority, Hauser said he believes that a solution to the conflict can only be found "within a framework of trial and error."
"The situation, which is changing radically, necessitates long-term reversible interim agreements, which will oblige us to make wrenching decisions only if and when they prove themselves, he said.
Hauser also has some implied criticism of the current American push for a final-status solution between Israel and the Palestinians, saying that it is "impossible to achieve a final-status agreement."
On the issue of Iran, which Netanyahu sees as the main threat to the future and security of Israel, Hauser is slightly less alarmist than his former boss, but says that a nuclear-armed Islamic Republic would "put an end to any prospect of peace in the Middle East. With the revolving nuclear sword of Iran hovering above, no moderate Arab who is considering a compromise with us will go ahead."
While Hauser has some critical words for Netanyahu, he still believes that the prime minister has handled the challenges of leadership with aplomb. Netanyahu "coped responsibly with a global economic crisis and with regional changes unprecedented for 100 years," he says. "The result was security stability, economic stability and political stability as well."
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