TEL AVIV – Defense Minister and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz on Tuesday indicated he could back Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plans to apply sovereignty to parts of the West Bank, citing Palestinian intransigence or what he termed, “their deep shit.”
“If the [Palestinians] forever say ‘no’ to everything – we will have to move forward without them. If the Palestinians think they will continue with their ‘deep shit,’ then they are wrong,” the defense minister said in Hebrew to journalists, but spoke English when he incorrectly used the term “deep shit” – apparently in reference to the Palestinian proclivity to refuse all offers for peace with Israel.
“We won’t get dragged into their deep shit,” he said.
“We will endeavor to minimize the danger of turning the State of Israel into a binational state, while maintaining state security and close discussion with the United States, countries around the world and the Palestinians, as much as they wish to be part of the discourse,” he said.
“We won’t take Palestinians into our territory, we won’t harm human rights or the right of [freedom of ] movement, we’ll work in coordination with countries in the region and we’re in contact with them, we won’t endanger the peace agreements,” he said, apparently referencing concerns that annexation would jeopardize Israel’s peace agreements with Jordan and Egypt.
He praised President Donald Trump’s peace plan, which calls for Israeli sovereignty over 30 percent of the West Bank, as “the first [proposal] to look at what’s happening on the ground in a realistic way.”
He cautioned, however, that every move Israel does or doesn’t take “will have a price.”
“We need to not only manage the conflict but also shape it,” he said.
The defense minister reiterated that annexation would have a “long-term effect on Israel’s security” and must be undertaken with caution.
“We need the State of Israel to be safe, Jewish, and democratic as well as to be financially secure and these plans should influence what measures we do or do not take,” he said.
Gantz has been at odds with Netanyahu over the plans, with Israeli media reporting that he supported a much more limited annexation of a few key settlement blocs.