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October 8, 2013 5:52 pm

Israeli Intelligence Minister Steinitz Says He’s ‘Not Confident’ That Deal With PA Would Bring Peace (INTERVIEW)

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Israeli minister Yuval Steinitz at the 2012 Innovate. Invest. Israel. Conference. Photo: Israel's Ministry of Finance.

In a recent interview with The Algemeiner Israel’s Minister of Intelligence, International Relations and Strategic affairs, Yuval Steinitz said he was “not confident” that a deal between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, in the current ongoing negotiations, would bring peace to the region.

“You know, many Israelis are quite suspicious about the peace process, because they ask themselves, ‘What kind of peace are we going to get?'” he said, explaining that Palestinian incitement against Jews and Israelis has raised concern about the long term intentions of the Palestinian Authority.

“Abu Mazen (PA President Mahmoud Abbas) is not encouraging terrorism, but he is promoting such incitement that might lead to hatred and terrorism now and in the future,” he explained. “So if you educate people that sooner or later Jews should be killed or that Jews are terrible creatures that corrupt and harm their surroundings, you actually legitimize terrorism against Jews or against Israelis.”

Steinetz called PA incitement against Jews and Israel “a huge obstacle for the peace dialogue” and called on President Abbas to “stop immediately the terrible anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic incitement in the Palestinian government-controlled media, and in the Palestinian education system.”

Seeing anti-Semitic and anti-Israel propaganda being spread by the Palestinians leaves Israelis very skeptical Steinitz asserted. “Look, what should Israelis think?” he asked. “On the one hand we celebrate the resumption of the peace talks all over the world together with our Palestinian counterparts and together with our American and European counterparts in English, and at the same time Israelis are exposed to this terrible hatred […] that is taking place on a daily basis in the Palestinian education system.  So Israelis are asking themselves, what kind of peace are we going to get at the end of the day?  Why should we make any concessions, difficult concessions on our side, if that’s the kind of peace that we are going to get – just a technical agreement, because the general idea is still that Israel is illegitimate and sooner or later should be destroyed.”

The minister also addressed the oft stated Israeli call for the PA to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, explaining why his country deemed the issue to be so central.

“To say that they recognize Israel’s existence, this is nothing. Why?  Because the Iranians also recognize Israel’s existence. Hezbollah also recognizes Israel’s existence. Those who want to destroy us recognize that we already exist, because you cannot destroy what there is not,” he said. “Of course, everybody recognizes the fact that Israel does exist, but real recognition means that Israel has the right to exist as it was established, as a Jewish state.”

“That the Jewish people have the right, had the right, to establish their national state and the right to preserve their tiny national state and homeland.  This is a true recognition that can lead to peace,” he said, “and Abu Mazen was always careful […] not to recognize Israel’s right to exist as it is, as a Jewish state.”

“If Abu Mazen wants to stop incitement, first he has to tell his people, ‘We recognize Israel as a Jewish state. We recognize that this land belongs both to us, but also to the Jewish people and, therefore, we want some kind of settlement.’ […] This should be the beginning of the diplomatic approach.”

Steinitz also said that President Obama made clear that he understood the importance of PA recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, during his trip to the region earlier this year.

“You know, Obama made this crystal clear during his recent visit to Israel – he made the point not just in Israel but also in Ramallah while visiting Abu Mazen.  He said to the Palestinians, stop ignoring the unique historic bonds between the Jewish people and the land of Israel that have existed already for more than 3,000 years.  Obama told them.  Stop ignoring the existence of the Jewish people and the special connection of the Jewish people to the land of Israel,” he said. “This was very good advice given by President Obama in Ramallah in front of Abu Mazen.”

“Until now Abu Mazen didn’t follow this advice,” Steinitz lamented.

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