Asked whether Prime Minister Netanyahu was sincere in seeking peace, Hanegbi said he had changed in the past 20 years and now faced a choice of “making history or becoming history.” Recalling that he had been bombarded with messages and calls urging him not to attend the J Street conference, the former minster said he had examined the J Street website and looked at its beliefs and concluded that the organization and its members were motivated by love of Israel and play an important role in the discussion about Israel’s future.
I admit it.
I was one of those who suggested to Tzachi not to attend.
He asked me if I was advocating blackballing them or, to be Middle East, to boycott them and place them outside the community pale.
I said no. If they came to Jerusalem, he should even receive them in his committee room at the Knesset. But to go to Washington as an official guest and speak at their convention is another thing entirely.
I tried to explain their danger and their record and sent him factual, resourced and annotated material. His English is fine.
But for him to say that he based his decision on reading their web site?
That is research? he has assistants. He could probably have asked the Knesset research unit for material. He could have asked other Likud members.
I honor his decision, even if disagreeing and I respect his political views. But to admit that his decision was made on a reading of J Street's web site?
That is too hard to accept or respect.
JTA now updates as to what he said politically:
Jerusalem negotiable, right of return is not, Likud’s Hanegbi tells J Street
Israel will accept a peace agreement that includes handing over Arab parts of Jerusalem, senior Likud lawmaker Tzachi Hanegbi said.
“...every issue has a compromise that can be relevant to both sides,” Hanegbi said while speaking as part of a panel of Israeli lawmakers at the J Street national conference in Washington.
Hanegbi said the question of Palestinian refugees returning to Israel was the one issue on which there could be no compromise in the recently revived peace talks.
“We do know the two-state solution is the only relevant solution, even to those right-wing members of Knesset,” Hanegbi said. “I think they understand the alternative — escalation and bloodshed, or one state — is not an option if you want to keep a Jewish, Zionist state.”
...“Look, you’re afraid that Jerusalem will be divided? No, it’s going to be some creative idea that will allow them to have their own sovereignty in their neighborhoods and to declare whatever they want to declare about it, and we will have sovereignty over other parts,” Hanegbi, who is considered a confidant of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, told reporters.
“All these things will be worked out. The devil is, as you know, in the details.”
Yes, we know. But we also know all about the devil.
In a briefing on Sunday, Tzachi Hanegbi of the Likud party informed reporters that a “creative solution” to the problem of Jerusalem could be found whereby the Arab neighbourhoods would be placed under Palestinian control, but refused to label it a division. “Look, you’re afraid that Jerusalem will be divided? No, it’s going to be some creative idea that will allow them to have their own sovereignty in their neighborhoods and to declare whatever they want to declare about it, and we will have sovereignty over other parts,” Hanegbi stated.
And if they declare a state there?
Hanegbi, however, said he was happy to represent the Likud at the J Street conference.
"J Street is a left-wing pro-Israel organization, which shares attitudes with many Israeli citizens. This was a good opportunity to hear their stances and show them mine, without softening or whitewashing the disagreements between us," Hanegbi explained. "I don't agree with them, but [their criticisms of Israel] are legitimate."
There is a difference between supporting Israel and agreeing with all of its government's policies, he added.
Hanegbi touted the importance of dialog, saying it is the only way to have an influence.
"I'm willing to talk to Palestinians, Iran and the extreme left. We need better communication," he stated.
P.S. Found a picture taken by Yariv Oppenheimer, Tzachi with MK Meirav Michaeli (Labor):