Israel should not rush into a peace agreement with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, as the Hamas terror group could take over the West Bank, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday.
Netanyahu, speaking at his weekly Bible-study session, compared political changes in the region to the weekly portion, saying just as a benevolent Pharaoh was replaced by one who enslaved the Jews, leaders around the region are being forced out and that could happen to Abbas as well.
“In this week’s Torah portion it is written, ‘Now there arose a new king over Egypt who knew not Joseph.’ That’s also happening today,” he said from his Jerusalem residence, referring to the Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi, who replaced Hosni Mubarak as Egypt’s leader last year.
“Everyone knows that Hamas could take over the Palestinian Authority,” Netanyahu said. “It can happen after an agreement [with Israel], it could happen before an agreement, as was the case in Gaza.”
Netanyahu was referring to a violent 2007 coup during which Hamas took over the Gaza Strip and pushed out the more moderate Fatah movement.
In recent days, President Shimon Peres has called on Netanyahu to use the opportunity presented by Abbas’s moderate views to find a way to make peace with the Palestinians.
Netanyahu, however, said that doing so would ignore security needs.
“As opposed to the voices that I have heard recently urging me to run forward, make concessions, withdraw [from the West Bank], I think that the diplomatic process must be managed responsibly and sagaciously and not in undue haste,” he said. “Otherwise a third base for Iranian terrorism will arise here, in the heart of the country. Peace can be achieved only when security is assured.”
Netanyahu was likely referring to Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Hezbollah in Lebanon as local Iranian-sponsored terror bases.
Netanyahu reportedly restated his commitment to a two-state solution on Monday, but stressed the need for the Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and for security arrangements to be in place for an agreement to be reached.
Netanyahu’s reaffirmation came on the heels of comments by Likud MK Tzipi Hotovely claiming his call for a two-state solution, made in a 2009 speech at Bar-Ilan University, was “tactical” and meant for external consumption only.
“Two states for two peoples was never part of [Likud's] election platform,” Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar told Ynet last week.