JERUSALEM, Israel – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told participants Monday at a 50th anniversary celebration of the re-establishment of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria that his administration would never again uproot families from their homes.
"We are here to stay forever," Netanyahu said. "There will be no more uprooting of settlements in the land of Israel. This is the inheritance of our forefathers. This is our land."
"Samaria is a strategic asset for the State of Israel," he continued. "It is the cradle of our people and the key to our future. This is our land. We have returned here to remain for eternity."
Netanyahu said Israel would not repeat mistakes like the government's 2005 decision (under then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon) to bulldoze 21 thriving communities in the Gush Katif Settlement Bloc in the Gaza Strip and four in northern Samaria, uprooting nearly 10,000 Israelis.
Sharon had been formulating his vision of "a unilateral withdrawal" to bring resolution to the Israeli-Arab conflict. It didn't. Hamas soon replaced the razed communities with terror training camps and rocket launching sites.
We got missiles when we uprooted settlements, Netanyahu said, vowing that "We will deepen our roots."
Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority's demands for a negotiated settlement have not changed.
Senior P.A. official Nabil Shaath said they reiterated the Palestinian position to Trump administration envoys Jared Kushner, Jason Greenblatt and Dina Powell during last week's meeting.
Shaath told the Ramallah-based Voice of Palestine radio, a subsidiary of the P.A.-controlled Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation, they're demanding "the end of the occupation [sic]; the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on 1967 borders with east Jerusalem as its capital; as well as the resolution of all permanent status issues, including the right of return for refugees," the Times of Israel reported.
Many see the P.A.'s real agenda is the elimination of the State of Israel, a goal they teach their children to emulate. That "reality" is shown on their official documents with "Palestine" superimposed on the map of Israel.
While the Trump administration says it will present its peace plan before the end of the year, many believe the chances of genuine progress are slim to none.