'By Unilateral Steps, Netanyahu Didn't Mean Evacuating Settlements'

Officials at the Prime Minister's Office say Netanyahu did not suggest evacuating Jewish settlements when he told Jeffrey Goldberg Israel is considering unilateral moves.

ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Netanyahu speaks during a press conference at the Independence Hall of Israel in Tel Aviv, Israel, May 1, 2014.
Netanyahu speaks during a press conference at the Independence Hall of Israel in Tel Aviv, Israel, May 1, 2014. Credit: AP
ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not suggest evacuating Jewish settlements when he told Bloomberg that Israel is considering unilateral steps in the West Bank, senior officials at the Prime Minister's Office said on Friday.

"The prime minister has no intention of evacuating settlements," the officials said.

In the interview published earlier on Friday, Netanyahu told Jeffery Goldberg that "the idea of taking unilateral steps is gaining ground, from the center-left to the center-right." It was the second time in two weeks that Netanyahu had suggested political alternatives to negotiations with the Palestinians.

The senior officials at the PMO said that in the wake of the breakdown of talks with the Palestinians, several Israeli officials have talked about alternative political plans. "The prime minister is currently considering the steps that can be taken with regard to the Palestinians," the officials said, "in light of the new situation that arose following the breakdown of talks and the reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah." They added that Netanyahu is consulting with party leaders on this issue.

Praise from the right

In the Bloomberg interview, Netanyahu observed that "many Israelis are asking themselves if there are certain unilateral steps that could theoretically make sense." However, he also remarked that Israelis consider the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza a failure, as "it created Hamastan, from which thousands of rockets have been fired at our cities."

Netanyahu's comments won praise by Economy Minister and Habayit Hayehudi leader Naftali Bennett, who wrote on his Facebook page on Friday that he's "all for it." "We should impose Israeli law on the territories," he wrote.

"We are pushing for the unilateral imposition of Israeli law on Gush Etzion, Ariel, the Jordan Valley Maaleh Adumim, Ofra, Alfei Menashe, the Ben Gurion belt, Shomron, Judea and Jewish settlement," Bennett wrote. "I will continue to push for that with all my strength until it happens. And it will happen."

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni criticized Bennett for his comments, saying he is "trying to lead Israel in a dangerous direction of a bi-national country." Speaking on Channel 2, Livni said that "peace is not around the corner. It is hard to achieve but we can't give up just because Bennett or someone else said so."

Livni added that Netanyahu was aware of her meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas last week. When asked about the meeting, Livni said: "I wanted to hear from him about things that happened during the negotiations. I made my position clear regarding his agreement with Hamas."

Netanyahu's interview also drew criticism from PLO Executive Committee member and former negotiator Hanan Ashrawi, who said that any Israeli attempt to bypass negotiations with the Palestinians and unilaterally set borders for the West Bank “will only form the basis for a new conflict.”

“We don’t believe unilateral readjustment of borders or crossing points is a solution,” Ashrawi told Bloomberg in a telephone interview from Ramallah. “It will only create a reality that will backfire in the future.”

Click the alert icon to follow topics:

Comments

SUBSCRIBERS JOIN THE CONVERSATION FASTER

Automatic approval of subscriber comments.
From $1 for the first month

Already signed up? LOG IN

ICYMI

בנימין נתניהו השקת ספר

Netanyahu’s Israel Is About to Slam the Door on the Diaspora

עדי שטרן

Head of Israel’s Top Art Academy Leads a Quiet Revolution

Charles Lindbergh addressing an America First Committee rally on October 3, 1941.

Ken Burns’ Brilliant ‘The U.S. and the Holocaust’ Has Only One Problem

Skyscrapers in Ramat Gan and Tel Aviv.

Israel May Have Caught the Worst American Disease, New Research Shows

ג'אמיל דקוור

Why the Head of ACLU’s Human Rights Program Has Regrets About Emigrating From Israel

ISRAEL-VOTE

Netanyahu’s Election Win Dealt a Grievous Blow to Judaism