A recording from 1999 was played Friday morning on IDF Radio (Galei Tzahal). In the recording, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is heard strongly opposing the idea of having Jews living under the Palestinian Authority (PA) – a concept he proposed this week.
“Do you know anyone who would agree to something like that? Find someone who would agree to live under Palestinian rule – it’s absurd,” Netanyahu is heard saying in the recording from 15 years ago. “That’s another way of saying ‘we’re eliminating these settlements by giving them to Palestinian rule.'”
Just this week Netanyahu gave Economics Minister Naftali Bennett an ultimatum to apologize or retire, after Bennett criticized Netanyahu’s proposal to have Jews live under the PA. Netanyahu’s office similarly said Likud MKs opposing the proposal “can leave the government.”
The controversy led to speculation that Netanyahu might follow former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s footsteps in breaking off from Likud to form the Kadima party and force through the 2005 “Disengagement” plan that expelled all Jews from Gaza. A scenario poll predicted Netanyahu would be able to form the largest party, but only by 1 seat.
Netanyahu added in the 1999 interview with Arutz Sheva‘s Hagai Segal “we won’t evacuate anyone, and we won’t transfer anyone to the PA, and we won’t uproot communities.”
Reports earlier in January indicated Netanyahu offered to cede most communities in Judea and Samaria to the PA, avoiding immediate eviction through a long-term lease.
On Thursday, it was reported that US Envoy Martin Indyk revealed that the framework arrangement being discussed would leave 75%-80% of Jewish residents in Judea and Samaria, evacuating the rest.
Indyk claimed PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas was not opposed to Jews outside of “settlement blocs” getting Palestinian citizenship, despite earlier statements to the contrary. Apparently this possibility lay behind Netanyahu’s proposal.