Economy Minister Naftali Bennett dismissed on Thursday the prospect of an economic boycott of Israel, warning that the formation of a Palestinian state would have dire consequences for Israel’s economy, and vowing that no foreign force would ever be allowed to protect the country.
Bennett, the leader of the national religious Jewish Home party, posited in an interview with Army Radio that the strength of Israel’s economy was based on security, and predicted that a Palestinian state would become a staging ground for terror attacks that would cripple trade.
“I declare that establishing a Palestinian state in the heart of the country will pulverize the Israeli economy,” Bennett said. “After all, it only takes one rocket to hit once in one [airport] terminal, and that will be the end of the economy.”
The minister warned that the geographic location of a future Palestine, pressed up against Israel’s heartland, posed too great a threat.
“The principle is very simple: When there is security in Israel the economy flourishes,” he said. “The conditions for a vibrant economy are quiet and security, and we will not get that by setting up a Palestinian state, a terror state, in the heart of the country.”
Bennett also reiterated his absolute opposition to the suggestion — recently put forth by a source in the Prime Minister’s Office in a comment to The Times of Israel — that residents of Jewish settlements in the West Bank could remain living in their homes within the borders of future Palestinian state following a peace deal.
“We will fight with all our might against the idea of abandoning hundreds of thousands of Israeli to be under Palestinian rule, for the simple reason that they won’t protect the Israelis,” he said.
The PMO official’s comment about leaving settlers in place within a future Palestinian state almost caused a coalition crisis last week.
Bennett also rejected the idea of a NATO force being deployed to police the Jordan Valley border area.
“We will never ever allow any foreigner, not NATO forces, not the Palestinians, to protect us,” he declared. “Only the IDF.”
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas recently stated he would agree to a NATO force in the Jordan Valley as a way of assuaging Israeli fears that the potentially porous border between Jordan and a future Palestinian state would allow the transfer of weapons and terror activists.
Abbas also said that the IDF could patrol the border areas for up to three years after the signing of a peace treaty. He later told The New York Times a withdrawal over five years would be acceptable too.