by Ryan Jones
Israeli Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett on Sunday took the Obama Administration to task for sounding such an optimistic note regarding the current Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.
Over the weekend, both President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry told the Brookings Institute’s Saban Forum that they had high hopes for the peace talks, and that a final status framework could be put in place within months.
At around the same time Obama and Kerry were making their lofty remarks, Palestinian terrorists operating out of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip fired two missiles into southern Israel.
Speaking to Israel Radio from Australia, Bennett noted that America cannot oversee a final status deal that somehow does not take Hamas into account.
“Imagine you’re negotiating over a car with someone who only owns half the car, and the owner of the other half says he won’t recognize any agreement you reach. You give him all the money but only get half the car,” the minister explained.
Washington has tried to ignore Hamas for the time being as it pushes forward talks between Israel and the government of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.
Bennett went on to say that he is “for an agreement, but a real one that doesn’t harm our interests.”
In other remarks carried by France’s AFP, Bennett said that what Israel needed to do was extend its sovereignty over Judea and Samaria (the so-called “West Bank”).
“I favor implementation of Israeli sovereignty over the zone where 400,000 Jews live and only 70,000 Arabs,” said Bennett, referring to what is known as “Area C” – territory that is already under full Israeli security control.
As part of that plan, Bennett would grant Israeli citizenship to those 70,000 Arabs.
This article was originally published in Israel Today magazine, http://www.israeltoday.co.il