A. B. Yehoshua at Haaretz Conference: Recognize a Palestinian State at the UN

Likud MK: No chance any progress will be made with the Palestinians because of Trump’s visit

A.B. Yehoshua speaking at Haaretz college peace conference on Monday.
Rami Shllush

Israeli author A.B. Yehoshua called on Israel Monday to stop preventing the recognition of a Palestinian state at the UN. Also speaking at a Haaretz peace conference, a Likud lawmaker lowered expectations ahead of U.S. President Donald Trump's visit in Israel.

Trump may be coming to Israel, but there is no chance anything will come out of it in terms of progress with the Palestinians, said Knesset member Yoav Kish (Likud) on Monday at a Haaretz peace conference for college students. “The maximum we are willing to give is far from the minimum the Palestinians are willing to take,” said Kish, the head of the “Land of Israel” caucus in the Knesset, at Beit Berl College.

The conference focused on the question of peace between Israel and the Palestinians, saying that after the first round of peace negotiations have failed, “Haaretz will not despair and insists on thinking together with young Israelis how to give peace a second chance.”

“Anyone who has a Zionist outlook is a partner for dialogue and I don’t agree with those who relate to the left in derogatory terms, they are legitimate and I respect their opinions,” Kish noted, adding that he opposes granting political rights to Palestinians in the West Bank. “I will never let the Arabs of Judea and Samaria vote for the Knesset," he said.

Author A.B. Yehoshua proposed new ideas that he thinks could lead to a breakthrough in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, including forgoing the Israeli demand for an end to the conflict as part of a peace deal. He also suggested allowing the United Nations to recognize a Palestinian state. “We need to recognize the severity and the uniqueness of the [Israeli-Palestinian] conflict. This conflict is so stubborn that it is unique,” said Yehoshua.

“No historic precedent exists of a land with 550,000 Arabs and 50,000 Jews, and a people came from all over the world and says they were here 2,000 years ago and they are returning to it,” Yehoshua said.

“We must tell the Palestinians ‘you have a country.’ Stop preventing their wishes in the UN, and tell our ‘slave’ the United States to allow them recognition as a state,” he added. As for the Israeli demand for an official end to the conflict, Yehoshua said: “It is impossible to ask that from anyone, it is a ridiculous request. Does a document that says it is an end to the demands have any value?”

Among those participating in the conference were MKs Shuli Moalem-Refaeli (Habayit Heyehudi) and Aida Touma-Suliman (Joint List), as well as former MK Haim Oron, who is the chairman of the board of trustees of the Beit Berl. Haaretz editor-in-chief Aluf Benn, and Haaretz journalists Ravit Hecht and Gideon Levy also participated in the conference.

Moalem-Refaeli said she is disappointed by the way the government has acted toward Trump and insisted that Israel is not an occupying power. “I was disappointed by our actions. There has never been a more right-wing president.”

“We must say explicitly there is no occupation in our land, we returned here after 2,000 years,” and only one country with a form of autonomy for the Palestinians must exist in the land of Israel, she added.

As to whether a Palestinian partner exists to make peace, Oron said Israel has potential partners for a peace agreement and the alternative to a two-state solution is decades of racist separation with a single Arab state at its end.

“I believe we have a partner now: The person who stands at the head the Palestinian Authority, and the one who is in our prisons, Marwan Barghouti. We will make peace and talk to those who fight us, the way we talked to [Yassir] Arafat,” added Oron.  

“The only possibility is two states, the alternative is an Arab state with 30 to 40 years of apartheid along the way, and I don’t want to be in any of those phases,” added Oron.

Touma-Suliman agreed with Oron: “We must ask the question, with whom will the Palestinians make peace? This government will preserve the existing situation, the overtime and create a situation with no talk about peace and the end of the occupation.” She warned that Israel is nearing a situation of “true chaos of an apartheid state if there is no radical change in coming years. There is a people under occupation that is paying a very heavy price and also Israeli Jews and Arabs who will pay a price. If there is no security for the Palestinian people then there will be no security for Israelis,” said Touma-Suliman.