Minister Steinitz: Israeli Withdrawal From West Bank Would Be 'Committing Suicide'

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Intelligence and Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz harshly condemned international pressure on Israel to reach a deal with Palestinians regarding the West Bank, stating such a move would be effectively "committing suicide" under current conditions. 

In an interview with Bloomberg TV, Steinitz cited both Israel's experiences in Gaza since the 2005 unilateral withdrawal, as well as current events in Iraq and Syria, as reasons why withdrawal from the West Bank cause an existential threat to Israel.

"After the extremely negative experiences following the complete withdrawal from Gaza nine years ago, it would be difficult to take similar risks with the West Bank – especially when taking into account jihadist groups popping up [throughout the Middle East], taking large areas under their control," Steinitz said.

He repeated Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's claims that Hamas in Gaza was no different than the Islamic State, Nusra Front and similar-minded organizations throughout the Middle East.

"If what happened in Gaza, in Iraq, in Syria and Libya would repeat itself in the West Bank, this would be committing suicide."

Steinitz additionally cited the Palestinian Authority's lack of control over Gaza, as well as Mahmoud Abbas' inability "to deliver or give any real guarantees" as a cause for skepticism.

The minister said the Palestinians must "show the world they can control themselves," adding that "the burden of proof is on Palestinian shoulders to prove what happened in Gaza will not happen in the West Bank."

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