It is time for Israel to formally abandon the so-called two-state solution as well as the concept of a Palestinian state and instead push for the complete Israeli annexation of the West Bank and retaking of the Gaza Strip, Israeli politician Moshe Feiglin contended.
Feiglin is chairman of Israel’s Zehut Party and a former Likud Knesset Member.
In a wide-ranging interview, broadcast Sunday on this reporter’s weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio,” Feiglin outlined a three point plan for Israel to “annex the total territory between the Mediterranean and the Jordan river.”
He was referring to Israel asserting full sovereignty over Judea and Samaria – territories commonly called the West Bank – as well as the annexation of the Gaza Strip.
There have been attempts within Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party to pass legislation calling for Israeli annexation. According to reports, however, Netanyahu asked lawmakers to put those plans on hold until the Trump administration unveils its forthcoming blueprint for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
Feiglin blamed Netanyahu and the right-wing in Israel for “failing” to propose a viable alternative to the two-state solution.
“The only reason that the Trump government will go to that concept of a two-state solution is because of Israel,” Feiglin posited.
“Not because of Trump. Trump, even before he got into office, he said the two-state solution is not the only solution. He was open to any other solution that the Israelis will bring. You cannot ask Trump to be more Catholic than the Pope. So, I have no complaints with Trump about it. The only problem is that the Israeli right never offered a real solution.”
Feiglin contended that the foundations for the creation of a Palestinian state rest on wrongful information that claims Israel is occupying Palestinian land. “This is our land,” he exclaimed. “We are talking about justice and not just realpolitik or pragmatism. … This is our land more than 3,000 years already.”
“These territories carry our identity,” he stated. “When you are walking the [Tomb of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs] in Hebron, 4,000 years of Jewish identity sticks to your shoes. You cannot run away from it.”
The politician argued that Israel’s past willingness to give up places like Hebron and other towns in Judea and Samaria that are steeped in Jewish history and identity constitutes “an inner identity conflict of the Jewish population in Israel and it has nothing to do with anyone else.”
He panned Israel’s 1967 decision to hand administrative control of the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site, to the Waqf association controlled largely by Jordan and currently also by the Palestinian Authority.
With Israel’s acquiescence, the Waqf restricts Jews from visiting the Mount except on small tours for a limited time on certain days. The Waqf does not allow non-Muslims to pray on the Mount or bring holy objects to the site; whereas Muslim prayer is unrestricted. Waqf representatives closely monitor non-Muslim visitors to the site and are known to boot those engaging in prayer.
Feiglin proceeded to outline his Israeli annexation plan as an alternative to the two-state solution. He says he will use the plan as a central portion of his Zehut party’s platform in the next Israeli election.
“Israel has to reverse the Oslo concept,” he stated, calling for the dismantling of the Palestinian Authority. This way, he says, Palestinians will “not be afraid anymore of the terror regime” of the PA.
The 1993 Oslo Accords established categories of territory in which “Area A” is controlled entirely by the Palestinians; “Area B” is controlled by Israel, but administered by the PA; and “Area C,” which includes eastern sections of Jerusalem, is supposed to be entirely administered and controlled by Israel.
Stated Feiglin: “There is no a territory A, B and C. Just as Israel knew in 2002 when [Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon had to take over, conquer whole cities of Judea and Samaria again after a whole wave of terror actions, we have to do that again and annex the total territory between the Mediterranean and the Jordan river.”
“And no one besides the IDF and the Israeli police will be allowed to carry weapons and to have any kind of authority to use force between the Mediterranean and the Jordan river,” he stated.
As for the Palestinians, Feiglin’s plan would grant them three options:
- Palestinians can remain as permanent residents of Israel “and not be afraid” of PA reprisal. The Palestinians would need to declare that they are loyal to the Jewish state before becoming permanent residents. They will be fully protected by the Israel Defense Forces and Israeli police.
- Offer Palestinians wishing to leave a generous emigration package that would include the purchase of their homes, money to start a new life, and assistance with expediting the immigration process to new countries.
- Palestinians willing to serve in the Israeli military, pass Hebrew language and Israeli history proficiency tests and pledge their loyalty would eventually be granted full Israeli citizenship.
Feiglin says he believes that many Palestinians will take the second option, citing numerous polls showing a sizable portion of the Palestinian population would chose to emigrate elsewhere if given the option.
He argued fear of PA reprisal and de facto rules that reportedly push the death penalty for Palestinians who sell property to Jews serve as the main obstacles to Palestinian mass emigration. The PA says it imposes a life sentence of hard labor to “anyone diverting, renting or selling land to an enemy state or one of its subjects.” In actuality, there have been scores of reports of extrajudicial killings of Palestinians caught selling property to Jews.
Feiglin was a longstanding member of the ruling Likud party, where he created the Manhigut Yehudit (Jewish Leadership) faction within the party. He served in the Knesset, including as the body’s deputy speaker. After a poor electoral showing in 2015, he left the Likud and formed his own party.
Some of his past electoral victories have at times rocked Israeli politics. In 2005, he came in third to serve as Likud chairman, following only Netanyahu and politician Silvan Shalom. In 2008, he took twentieth place in the Likud primaries and in 2013 he finished thirteenth, making it into the Knesset after his party won enough seats.
In the interview with this reporter, Feiglin predicted that early elections will be held due to the numerous investigations surrounding Netanyahu. He believes his party will do well in the next election, whenever it is held, due to the shift in the Israeli mood away from the two-state solution and possible support for his economic platform, which calls for the state to take more of a back seat in the economy and the private lives of citizens.
He stated: “We passed a tipping point in the Israeli conscience. … We are touching Israelis from different segments of Israeli society. We are talking about young Israelis in Tel Aviv. We’re talking about religious. Non-religious Israelis. Men. Women. … Israelis who want this combination. Want the full identity, want the whole country, but with less involvement of the state in their private lives.”
The so-called two-state solution calls for the creation of a Palestinian state, ostensibly in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and some eastern sections of Jerusalem, in exchange for the Palestinian Authority ending its conflict with Israel and living at peace with the Jewish state.
The “two-state solution” has been the defining formula for all Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, and so far every Israeli offer of a state has been rejected by the PA.
Israel offered the Palestinians a state with territory in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Jerusalem at Camp David in 2000, Taba in 2001, the Annapolis Conference in 2007, 2008 and during U.S.-brokered talks in 2013 and 2014. Israel has since been willing to restart talks at any time.
According to some reports, Israel went so far as to offer the Palestinians control of the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site, in at least two separate, desperate bids to make peace.
In each of these cases, without any exception, the Palestinian Authority rejected Israel’s offer of a state and bolted the negotiations. In most cases, they countered statehood offers with major escalations in violence, including infamously launching the deadly Second Intifada, or terrorist war, in response to the Camp David peace talks.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas currently refuses to come to the bargaining table. Besides the PA’s rejection of all previous statehood offers, a major issue blocking the “two-state solution” is that the PA, which would rule a future state, supports terrorism, incites against Israel, celebrates the killers of Jews and pays monthly stipends to those who murder Israelis. Abbas’s security forces have participated in scores of deadly attacks against Israelis. There have been ongoing attempts at reconciliation between Abbas’s Fatah Party and the Hamas terrorist organization.