TEL AVIV — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on the Palestinian Authority to enter negotiations based on President Donald Trump’s peace plan, days ahead of the July 1 deadline for annexation parts of the West Bank, which the prime minister claimed will advance peace.
“I encourage the Palestinians not to lose another opportunity, not to waste another century trying to destroy Israel,” Netanyahu said in a video message broadcast at a virtual summit of Christians United for Israel (CUFI).
“They should sit down and negotiate in good faith. They should be prepared to negotiate a historic compromise that can bring peace to Israelis and Palestinians alike. Israel is prepared for such negotiations; I am prepared for such negotiations.”
The PA rejected the peace plan before it was revealed and have severed ties with Washington over the latter’s decision to cut funds to it as a result of its pay-for-slay scheme paying stipends to convicted terrorists and their families.
“Israel is prepared for such negotiations. I am prepared for such a negotiation. And I’m sure that many Arab states in our region are hoping we enter such negotiations with the Palestinians,” he said, noting Israel’s burgeoning ties with Arab states that have no diplomatic relations with it.
“I worked hard over the past decade to deepen ties with Israel’s Arab neighbors, many of whom don’t have formal peace agreements with Israel,” Netanyahu continued. “And as Israel moves forward, I will continue to work to strengthen those ties. I’m confident that together we can build a future of reconciliation and peace.”
Netanyahu hailed Trump’s plan, saying it “is anchored in a foundation of truth” and “confronts a great lie head on – the lie that the Jewish people are foreign colonialists in our own ancestral homeland.”
“It makes clear that the Jewish people have a valid, legal, historical and moral claim to Judea in Samaria. And it supports Israel’s sovereignty over the Jewish communities there,” he said, referring to the West Bank by its biblical term.
“After all, we’re called Jews because we’re the people of Judea,” he said. “But these areas are also an integral part of Christian identity. They’re a part of your heritage. They’re a part of our common civilization. And under Israeli sovereignty, our common heritage will be forever protected. In a region where Christians are on the run and live in fear, Christians in Israel are on the rise and they live in freedom.”
He went on to say that Trump’s plan was the only viable proposal for a Palestinian state until now.
“My friends, the president’s vision finally puts to rest the two-state illusion,” Netanyahu added. “It calls for a realistic two-state solution. And in this realistic solution, Israel, and Israel alone, has control of all security matters on the ground and on the air, west of the Jordan River. This is good for Israel, it’s good for the Palestinians, it’s good for peace.”
“The plan doesn’t include the uprooting of tens of thousands of Jews from their homes; it doesn’t uproot a single Jew or Arab. Enough with ethnic cleansing,” he said.
CUFI’s founder and chairman Pastor John Hagee said he prays “that the Palestinians choose peace,” and that “they will choose the opportunity for prosperity that President Trump’s peace proposal provides for them.”
“We pray that those in the international community – in particular, the charlatans at the United Nations – will come to see that Israel is a nation to be commended and not constantly condemned,” he continued. “We pray that the Trump peace proposal concerning Israel’s right to exercise its sovereignty in Judea and Samaria will go forward.”
Alternate Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benny Gantz also addressed the summit saying he hoped the Palestinians would come to the negotiating table “and not miss another opportunity for positive change, for peace and for prosperity.”
“The Palestinians, regrettably, ignore this important call for dialogue,” Gantz said.
He praised Trump’s plan as “visionary,” and said it “presents a historic window of opportunity at a critical juncture” from a man he applauded as “a true and great friend of Israel.”
The Trump administration’s “vision for peace” sees Israel annexing 30 percent of the West Bank and the Jordan Valley. It also delineates a demilitarized Palestinian state established on most of the West Bank with parts of eastern Jerusalem that are outside the Israeli security fence as its capital.
If Israel goes ahead with the plans, the Palestinian leadership warned that it would unilaterally declare a state based on the pre-1967 lines. Jordan has warned of a “massive conflict” if Israel proceeds with the plan, raising concerns that the Hashemite Kingdom may even cancel its peace treaty with the Jewish state.
Several European states have also warned both Israel and the U.S. against the move.