From Jeffrey Goldberg's interview with Netanyahu, although this opening intro
I met Netanyahu last Friday afternoon in his bunkerlike office in Jerusalem.
is really a low-blow. It isn't but an office building.
The part the really interests me:
GOLDBERG: Why do you think that Kerry and [U.S. special envoy] Martin Indyk believe that the settlements are a great impediment to peace? Indyk in particular has denounced “rampant settlement activity" as a key factor undermining negotiations.UPDATE:
NETANYAHU: Most of the settlement population, between 80 to 90 percent, is clustered in three urban blocs, in suburbs of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem that everyone knows will stay in a final peace settlement. Effectively, the territory that is involved has not increased. It’s marginal. It’s been marginal for the last 20 years. No new settlements have been built since the time I was first prime minister, which was 1996.
What you are talking about is an increasing population within these urban blocs. It doesn’t materially affect the map. If you took an aerial photograph to see how much territory has been "consumed" by so-called "rampant" settlement activity, the answer is practically nothing. If you can make a deal, you can make a deal. The addition of a few hundred housing units a year in this territory doesn’t alter it. Successive Israeli governments have offered deals and couldn’t get them because the Palestinians would not lock horns with the primary obstacle to peace, which is the refusal to end the conflict with Israel once and for all. To recognize that the Jewish people have the right to self-determination, just as the Palestinian people do. My insistence on recognition of the Jewish state is not a tactical PR stunt. It goes to the core of the conflict.
...GOLDBERG: Come back to this point: If the settlements aren’t a big deal, then what’s a big deal?
NETANYAHU: In the Middle East today, there are two great threats. The threat is militant Islam in its Shia variety or Sunni variety... Does the Palestinian issue play a role here? It hinders more open relations, but such relations are taking place anyway.
And earlier there, this:
NETANYAHU: We want a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state. How do you get that if you can’t get it through negotiations? It’s true that the idea of taking unilateral steps is gaining ground, from the center-left to the center-right. Many Israelis are asking themselves if there are certain unilateral steps that could theoretically make sense. But people also recognize that the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza didn't improve the situation or advance peace -- it created Hamastan, from which thousands of rockets have been fired at our cities.
NETANYAHU: What the Palestinians keep saying is, Look, we want the maximum. We will not make any adjustments in our demands. Nothing. Not tactical, not strategic. I said to them, You tell me that you want me to draw a map of a state, but you won’t tell me that the state on the map will recognize the Jewish state next to it. They want a map without an end of conflict.
I think Palestinian society is divided into two. The first half openly calls for Israel’s destruction. And the second half refuses to confront this and refuses to confront the demons inside their own camp In Israel, there is a vigorous debate about what compromise would entail. There is no such debate in the Palestinian Authority...