Israel will secure Jewish settlements that remain outside its borders under any peace deal with the Palestinians, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, a condition they probably will oppose.
In an excerpt from an interview today on Israel’s Channel 2 TV, the Israeli leader repeated that he wouldn’t uproot any settlers from the West Bank, the territory the Palestinians want as the core of a future state. Palestinian officials have rebuffed the notion of any settlements remaining under their sovereignty and reject a long-term Israeli military presence in the West Bank.
“It’s clear that some of the settlements, some of them, won’t be part of the accord, that’s clear,” Netanyahu said. “I won’t leave any Israeli without Israeli protection, without the full security that we can provide every single Israeli.”
“There won’t be an evacuation,” he said.
Settler leaders have ruled out remaining in the West Bank under Palestinian sovereignty.
Palestinians, backed by the international community, regard the settlements as illegal construction on occupied land. Israel maintains the West Bank isn’t occupied territory because it wasn’t recognized as belonging to anyone before the 1967 war, when the Israeli military captured it along with east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. It evacuated Gaza in 2005.
The Palestinians also object to the long-term presence of Israeli soldiers in the West Bank as an encroachment on the sovereignty of their hoped-for state.
About 350,000 Jews live in the West Bank, and about 200,000 live in east Jerusalem. Disputes over continued Israeli settlement construction and Israel’s demands for a military presence in a state of Palestine have complicated U.S.-brokered peace talks.
Negotiations are approaching a crossroads, with the U.S. pressing the sides to agree on a blueprint that would guide talks to a final accord, beyond the nine months they agreed to when they resumed peacemaking in late July.
In comments carried by the Palestinian news agency Wafa today, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said there is “no way” he will recognize Israel as a Jewish state, as Netanyahu has demanded, or accept anything less than all of east Jerusalem as a future capital. Netanyahu has said he wouldn’t partition Jerusalem, whose eastern sector contains shrines sacred to both Jews and Muslims.
Abbas staked out those positions ahead of a White House visit later this month.