Netanyahu: Why Not a 'Jewish Minority' in Palestine?
JERUSALEM, Israel -- Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would not uproot one Jewish community or resident in the context of a peace agreement with the Palestinian Authority.
"I have no intention of removing a single community. I have no intention of uprooting a single Israeli," Netanyahu told reporters Friday on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
According to one government official quoted by Israeli media, Netanyahu believes Jewish residents in Judea and Samaria could decide if they want to live under Palestinian rule.
"Just as Israel has an Arab minority, the prime minister doesn't see why Palestine can't have a Jewish minority," the Times of Israel quoted an unnamed government official. Anyone who disagrees with Netanyahu's policies, he reportedly said, could leave the government.
Israeli attorney David Benjamin told CBN News he could envision such a reality though in the present climate, it's hard to imagine it working.
"In a situation of genuine peace, having a sizable Jewish minority in a future democratic Palestinian state could be a healthy thing -- a mirror image of the situation in Israel, which has a significant Palestinian Arab minority," Benjamin said. "However, in the present climate it's difficult to see this working."
Meanwhile, several Israeli ministers came out strongly against the idea.
Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon, Deputy Foreign Minister Ze'ev Elkin, Deputy Transportation Minister Tzipi Hotovely, Deputy Minister Ofir Akunis and Economics and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett were among those who rejected the concept outright.
"Never!" Bennett emphatically responded on Facebook. "We did not return to the Land of Israel after 2,000 years of longing to live under the government of [P.A. leader] Mahmoud Abbas," Israeli media quoted his post. "Whoever advocates for the idea of Jewish life under Palestinian rule is undermining our ability to sit [live] in Tel Aviv."
Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon said he wouldn't wish such a fate on "his enemies."
"I would not wish for my enemies to live under Palestinian sovereignty," Danon said. "Where there is no [Israeli] military presence and authority, there will be no security for any Jew. We will not abandon settlers behind enemy lines."
The fact is the Palestinian Authority itself has repeatedly said it would not permit a single Jew to live in its future state.
"Anyone who says he wants to keep [Jewish] settlers in a Palestinian state is really saying he does not want a Palestinian state," P.A. chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said recently. "No settler will be permitted to stay in a Palestinian state, not one, because the settlements are illegal and the presence of settlers on occupied lands is illegal."
Benjamin says "not too many Israeli Jews have sufficient confidence in the ability or willingness of a Palestinian state to protect them or look after their interests."
"In the background of this debate is the reticence of the Israeli government to carry out another forced eviction of settlers from their homes as was done in Gaza in 2005," he added.