The Palestinian Authority, not Israel, should make concessions in order to enter peace negotiations, Tourism Minister Uzi Landau (Yisrael Beytenu) said on Monday.
[U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry] is not the only one who is serious,” Landau told Arutz Sheva, a day after Kerry concluded his latest visit to the region in an attempt to resume the stalled talks. “We are serious as well, and we demand negotiations without preconditions. The question is whether [PA Chairman Mahmoud] Abbas and his associates are serious too. After all, they could have started negotiations four years ago, but they refused because they believe that there will always be somebody to pressure Israel, so why enter negotiations in which they will have to make concessions and compromises?”
Landau said that he believes that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is correct in his demands for peace talks without preconditions, but added that if the PA demands gestures from Israel in order to start talks, Israel should remand reciprocal gestures from the PA.
An example of a gesture that Israel should demand, said Landau, is that the PA changes its education system in which Jews are described as apes, pigs and enemies of humanity. As well, he said, if the PA demands that Israel freeze construction in Judea and Samaria, Israel should make a similar demand of the PA.
“They tell us that when we build in Judea and Samaria it changes the status quo and affects the results of the talks, but this is also true for them,” he noted. “They build a lot more than us in Judea and Samaria. Why not demand the same things from them? When one enters negotiations there is a great value to reciprocity.”
Asked whether he himself supports the idea of a Palestinian state, Minister Landau responded, “A Palestinian state is not feasible at all right now. Look at the Middle East and see how it is changing. I say this to anyone who thinks that if we create a Palestinian state there will be peace and quiet for thirty or forty years. When you see Arab countries such as Tunisia, Libya, Yemen and Iraq … see what happens in Egypt, about which [former President] Sadat said that it is the only Arab country while all the rest are tribes with flags.”
He noted that the Palestinian Authority signed an agreement with Israel as a singleentity and then broke up into two entities, one in Gaza and one in the PA-assigned areas of Judea and Samaria where Abbas is afraid to call an election because he may lose. “They tell us that he is a partner with whom it is possible to sign an agreement and get twenty years of peace? It is not realistic at all,” said Landau.
“I do not believe in a Palestinian state and I oppose a Palestinian state,” said Landau, adding that at the same time he believes that the Prime Minister should be allowed to act as he sees fit.
“I think the bottom line is that people have concluded that the option of a Palestinian state does not exist. Not because of us, because of them,” he said. “You sign with one and what will come out of it? A head of another tribe will come along and decide otherwise.”