TEL AVIV – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday told National Security Adviser John Bolton and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman that he would hear out the Trump administration’s peace plan “fairly and with openness,” but stressed that Israel would never surrender its security presence in the West Bank’s Jordan Valley.
Netanyahu also slammed the Palestinians for rejecting the U.S. proposal sight unseen.
Touring the Jordan Valley with the Trump administration officials, Netanyahu said, “Under any peace agreement, our position will be that Israel’s presence should continue here for Israel’s security and for the security of all.”
“We believe that peace is coupled and dependent on security. Our presence here guarantees security and therefore guarantees peace,” he said.
“And in general, I would say that we’ll hear the American proposition, hear it fairly, and with openness,” he added.
“I cannot understand how the Palestinians, before they even heard the plan, reject it outright. That’s not the way to proceed.”
Bolton is in Israel to attend a meeting along with Israel’s National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat and Russian Secretary of the Security Council Nikolay Patrushev to discuss regional security.
He said that Israel’s security was a top priority in President Donald Trump’s peace plan.
“I’ll just say that without security, there is no peace, there is no long-lasting peace. And I just think it’s too bad, Prime Minister, that more Americans can’t come to locations like this, see the geography, understand its significance, understand how it affects Israel’s critical security position, and explain why Israel has taken the view that it has,” Bolton told Netanyahu on Sunday.
“I can assure you that President Trump will take the concerns that you have voiced so clearly over the years very much into account as we go forward on this.”
The White House on Saturday published the economic portion of its so-called “deal of the century.” The plan would see $50 billion injected into the Palestinian economies throughout the Middle East via public and private financing.
Palestinian officials across the board panned the proposal.
The economic plan aims to double the Palestinians’ gross domestic product, create more than one million jobs in the Palestinian territories and reduce the poverty rate by 50%.
It also calls for connecting the PA-run West Bank and Hamas-run Gaza via a rail service, an idea that was criticized by Israeli lawmakers for posing a threat to Israel’s security.
Tzachi Hanegbi, minister for regional cooperation, said a land link was out of the question as long as Gaza is being ruled by a terror group.
“It will be relevant when Gaza stops being a pro-Iranian terror kingdom, meaning it’s irrelevant today and in the foreseeable future,” Hanegbi told Israel Radio.