In the wake of a loud Knesset debate Wednesday between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and opposition head Yitzchak Herzog, Tzachi Hanegbi, chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, said Thursday that there was no connection – or worse, possibly an inverse connection – between terror attacks and peace talks. “Pushing a peace plan has nothing to do with reducing terrorism,” he said in an interview on Radio 103. “In fact, each time we have an active peace process, we have more terrorism. That is a fact.”
“All of this talk about how terror attacks are taking place now because of a lack of a peace process is nonsense,” said Hanegbi. “Even during the period of Oslo before the second Intifada there was plenty of terror. We all want to arrive at a settlement with the Palestinians, because failing to come to one will lead to terrible results.”
Hanegbi spoke a day after a loud shouting match between MKs on the right and left on the current security situation. Netanyahu, criticizing Herzog for failing to admit – until now – that there was no peace process, congratulated Herzog for finally realizing that “this is the Middle East. [That] there are no substantive talks going on now. As such we will continue to build our iron wall against terrorism. In my speech at Bar Ilan University six years ago, I laid out what was needed to arrive at a deal – mutual recognition and a Palestinian state that is broken up into different segments. The IDF must be present throughout Yehudah and Shomron, as it is the only force that can ensure peace.”
Netanyahu attacked Herzog’s “separation plan,” as presented at a Zionist Camp meeting Sunday. Herzog’s plan is basically an extension of the ones devised by previous Prime Ministers Ehud Olmert and Ariel Sharon: Complete the construction of the security fence around settlement blocs, with the intention of annexing them, and abandon Area B – currently under Israeli military control – to the Palestinian Authority. Arab villages in the area would be zoned out of Yerushalayim, and would be transferred to civilian control of the PA, which could declare its capital there if it wanted. In any event, the IDF would remain in charge of all of Yehudah and Shomron. “We have learned the lesson of the disengagement from Gaza, which was the Likud’s doing,” said Herzog, referring to the use of Gaza as a base to attack Israel with missiles.
Herzog attacked Netanyahu, saying that “he does not want to separate from the Palestinians, he is afraid of the ‘messianists’ on the right, those who want the Jews to drown in a majority Arab state. I heard this morning Uri Ariel say he wanted to annex lands and absorb more Palestinians into Israel. Are you crazy? Do you want even more terror attacks?” The right, he added, “so wishes that the two state solution will die – but it will not, because it is the only solution.”
On Wednesday, Netanyahu said that while separation plans were fine, “there can be no ‘security separation.’ Israel must remain the responsible party in the field,” he added.
With that, Hanegbi said Thursday that there was no reason peace talks could not begin again – and that Netanyahu was very interested in coming to an agreement with the Palestinians. “The prime minister has said that he is opposed to a binational state – he believes this would be a tragedy. That is why he wants to come to an agreement – not because of a stabbing with a potato peeler at the Gush Etzion Junction.”