Q: So the Palestinians can remain calm in the knowledge that the Netanyahu
government plans to negotiate a permanent settlement with them?
A: Netanyahu's line during the election campaign was: Who will do a
better, more aggressive, job of negotiating issues related to the
permanent settlement -- the previous government, or the incoming one? This
also entails an intention to conduct negotiations on the permanent
Q: What sort of settlement?
A: The position of the Prime Minister-elect is that the Palestinians
should be given maximum autonomy, with Israel maintaining maximum security
for itself. And of course, the Likud position's specifies self-rule for
the Palestinians; this is the starting point. Israel has a number of
important interests in Judea and Samaria, and these must be safeguarded.
Q: Interests such as what?
A: There is a prepared list -- security, strategic security, the IDF's
presence in the Jordan Valley and at other strategic sites in Judea and
Samaria. And to the extent that Arafat cannot -- or does not want to --
fulfill his commitment in the area of security, or that he fails to
recognize this responsibility, Israel will have to ensure its security on
its own, maintaining the freedom to act in defense of its citizens.
And there is the water issue. Israel depends upon the underground water
resources in Judea and Samaria. A fourth issue is Jerusalem and its
environs. Finally, I would add what I call "demographic security" -- that
we do not find ourselves in a situation where the Palestinian Authority
floods Judea and Samaria with refugees; after all, the demographic balance
in Judea and Samaria will also influence the situation within the Green
Q: And how can we ensure that there is no such "flood" of refugees?
A: This, after all, is one of the fundamental differences between an
independent Palestinian state and self-rule, which is less than a state.
An independent Palestinian state can allow itself full control over
Q: And allow people to enter its territory?
A: Correct. One cannot rule out the possibility that Lebanon may decide to
deport Palestinian Arabs. Where will they be transferred? If the
Palestinians have exclusive control over border crossings, as is the case
in all countries, this gives the option of letting them enter.
Q: When you speak of demographic balance in the territories, one can
conceive of achieving this through settlement expansion, or through the
establishment of new settlements. Is this the line which will be adopted
by the Netanyahu government?
A: It is still too early to define the character of Jewish settlement. At
the same time, Netanyahu has spoken before about the importance of the
security areas in Judea and Samaria, and settlement is also important to
Israeli security. And I want to add that late Prime Minister Yitzhak
Rabin, in his Oslo II address, said that he did not concede the
possibility of expanding the settlements. He has spoken specifically about
the need to enable growth among the residents, and of infrastructures
within the settlements. And this provides a certain foundation from which
to begin dealing with this.
The new cabinet will have to decide on its policy, but even the previous
government of the late Yitzhak Rabin did not institute an absolute freeze
on Jewish life in Judea and Samaria.
Rex Brynen * email@example.com * 17 May 1996