'Not too late' to annex much of the West Bank, Danon told Times of Israel last year

Danny Danon, opponent of Palestinian state, to be Israel’s UN ambassador

Right-wing science minister sparred with Netanyahu over Gaza war conduct, control of Likud party institutions

Danny Danon (right) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a Likud party conference, November 9, 2014 (Flash90)
Danny Danon (right) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a Likud party conference, November 9, 2014 (Flash90)

Science Minister Danny Danon, an outspoken opponent of the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, is slated to become Israel’s next ambassador to the United Nations, it was announced Friday.

Danon, 44, has served as a Likud lawmaker since 2009. He was fired from his post as deputy defense minister last year by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after publicly criticizing what he said was the insufficiently aggressive conduct of that summer’s war with Hamas in Gaza.

Danon chairs the powerful Likud Central Committee and has sparred with Netanyahu in recent years over control of internal Likud party institutions. He is also chair of World Likud.

Netanyahu’s decision to appoint the science minister to one of the foreign service’s most senior diplomatic posts clears the way for the election of a new Central Committee chair, and frees up a cabinet post Netanyahu can offer to another Likud lawmaker.

Danon is a long-time activist on the Israeli right and an outspoken opponent of the two-state solution. He holds a bachelor’s degree in international relations from Florida International University and a master’s degree in public policy from Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

A statement from the Prime Minister’s Office Friday said Danon “has been dealing with public diplomacy and international relations for over two decades.”

At a meeting last year with Times of Israel staff, Danon reiterated his fierce opposition to any two-state solution, instead calling on Israel to annex parts of the West Bank. While international consensus speaks of Israel retaining the major Jewish settlements blocs in the West Bank, and the rest going to a future Palestinian state, Danon hopes to “gain sovereignty over the majority of the land” in the West Bank, “with the minimum number of Palestinians,” he said.

According to his plan, the Palestinians would keep only their major population centers and would not receive Israeli citizenship. “Their status will have to be determined with Jordan, Israel and the Palestinians. It shouldn’t be Israel’s burden to deal with that issue. I think Jordan must be involved more than they are today.”

How exactly a future agreement would look, Danon said, remains unclear. “It’s not only [a choice between] two states or one state. That’s how it’s being presented. But I say wait, there are other options, let’s wait and discuss,” he said. “If you look at what’s happening today in the region, you see that everything is open to negotiations.”

Israel made a mistake by not annexing major parts of the West Bank after capturing them in 1967, Danon said. “But it’s not too late.”

If he were in power, he would move to annex Area C, which covers some 60% of the West Bank and is home to an estimated 4% of the Palestinian populace. The territory should be annexed at a future opportune occasion, for example as a retaliatory step for unilateral moves by the Palestinians. “You need to think about the timing,” he said. “So I’m not saying to do it tomorrow morning. But it’s something that we should do, and we should think about when we do it and how we do it, but it’s something that we should aim for.”

Arguing for the Jews’ right to the land of Israel, Danon quoted the Bible and international treaties, but also what he said he considered simple logic: “When you win the war, you don’t make compromises after that,” he said. “It doesn’t work like that. We won the war — they can’t go back now and say, ‘Well, in ’48 [when the United Nations proposed a Jewish state and an Arab state] the intention was different.’ Yes, but the fact is that they lost. That’s part of life. We should retain what we won in the war.”

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