In a wide-ranging interview with the Washington Post, Education Minister Naftali Bennett presented his views on the future of Judea and Samaria – much to the chagrin of Post senior editor Lally Weymouth, who said that Bennett seemed “too young and hip” to be in favor of annexing part of the area.
When asked about statements Bennett made about “not giving land back to the Palestinians,” the Education Minister immediately corrected his interlocutor. “Not back — away. I don’t believe in giving up our land. I think it’s a profound mistake. The past several decades have taught us that every time we gave up a piece of land, immediately it turns into a launchpad for radical Islam.
“We gave up land and got the Second Intifada, with over 1,000 Israelis blown up in our cities,” continued Bennett. “We gave up Gaza, handed it over to the Palestinians, and now we have an unsolvable problem. When something doesn’t work, you change course. A growing portion of Israelis have come to adopt my point of view, which is why [Prime Minister Netanyahu] effectively adopted my view during the recent elections.
When asked what he would “do” with the Palestinians, Bennett said that those living in Area C of Judea and Samaria, which is under Israeli military and civilian rule, were welcome to become citizens. “In Judea and Samaria, there are two areas,” said Bennett. “There are the Palestinian-controlled areas that are called A and B, and the Israeli-controlled area, which is called C. My approach is for the Palestinians to have almost full self-governance in their area. . . . I have no desire to govern them. In Area C, we will apply Israeli law and Israeli sovereignty.”
Still insisting that Israeli sovereignty meant an “ethnic cleansing” of Arabs, Weymouth asked Bennett “Unless you transport all the Palestinians to Jordan, what do you do?” In response, Bennett said that there would no “transporting” of anyone – Jew or Arab. “By my plan, not one Jew and not one Arab is going to be expelled from his house. You don’t destroy people’s houses. But we agree to not agree. I think that forming a Palestinian state in the heart of Israel is crazy. The world thinks I’m mistaken. Gotcha.
“At least can we do joint industry,” Bennett said. “Can we revamp the infrastructure jointly? Can we make life better for everyone while we continue to disagree on the ultimate solution? Everyone’s so obsessed with some perfect solution that we’re missing what we could do immediately.
“Since 1990, I’ve been a major in the reserves, in a special forces unit. I’ve participated in every conflict since 1990. It’s the worst thing. I want peace more than most people. But the question is how do you achieve quiet? And I submit that tearing out parts of our land and handing it over to the Palestinians is a clear recipe for disaster.”