Kafe Knesset for June 22
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Herzliya Conference Highlights — Minister of Defense Avigdor Liberman: The Palestinians do not have the ability to reach an agreement with the State of Israel alone. Without learning any lessons from the past 24 years we will not be able to move forward. The order must be reversed: First of all, a regional agreement and only then an agreement with the Palestinians. Anyone who tries to make a condition and take us as hostages and solve the Palestinian problem first will bring us to a dead end. If we want to reach an end to the conflict, we must first reach an agreement with all the moderate Sunni states and only as a by-product of an arrangement with the Palestinians.
Tzipi Livni: If Trump wants to correct Obama’s mistakes, he should lay the US principles on the table here and now. Netanyahu agreed in 2014 to discuss these principles with reservations. Trump should not force content on the sides but rather force them to make a decision according to existing principles. He can now lay a document on the table based on some basic principles. Netanyahu has no political problem to say yes – there is an alternative coalition in Israel for peace.
Minister of Transportation and Intelligence Yisrael Katz: Saudi King Salman should invite the prime minister to visit Saudi Arabia, like Sadat and Begin, or send the new heir to the throne, Mohammed bin Salman, for a public meeting in Israel. The Iranian threat creates a basis for cooperation between Israel, the Sunni Arab states and the new American administration. The Gulf states should establish an economic peace and gradual normalization with Israel, cancel the Arab boycott and implement interim measures. Negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians can take place simultaneously with the promotion of normalization but the Palestinians should have no right to veto normalization measures between Israel and the Gulf states.
Public Security and Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan: It was an important step by President Trump to place the issue of incitement in the center of the dialogue with the PA, but we should be careful not to fall into Abu Mazen’s trap. He will argue that the payments to the families of the terrorists are a kind of welfare payments to families whose income has been harmed and is already trying to hide the payments by partially reporting the budget of the PA and by setting up fictitious bodies through which he transfers the money. Special envoy Greenblatt and son-in-law of President Jared Kushner are currently visiting Israel and the Palestinian Authority. I call upon them to say unequivocally that as long as Abu Mazen pays for incitement, the US will not finance Abu Mazen, and one cent of American taxpayers’ money should not finance Palestinian incitement to terrorism.
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union): Netanyahu is afraid of leaving the Prime Minister’s Residence on Balfour Street. So every time Bennett lifts his head, he copies him. Netanyahu, at the logical level understands Israel’s demographic danger. But then his fears enter, and he can not think or act. He cannot act like Sharon, Rabin or Olmert. He cannot take a risk and be de Gaulle. He has no desire for action. He is shocked that Trump is somewhere else, but he is using delay tactics very well. I say with certainty that Netanyahu is not capable of reaching peace with the Palestinians. He is able to talk and delay. I think he probably tried to do that with Kushner yesterday, too, and at some stage the White House will get tired of it or decide who is to blame for the lack of the process.
Glick breaks the boycott in Vienna: Likud MK Yehudah Glick is no stranger to controversy with his strident advocacy for Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount. But this week Glick got attention for doing something that is even more contentious – he met with the far right Austrian Freedom Party. Glick met with the Freedom Party’s leader, Heinz-Christian Strache. Strache gave Glick a letter to deliver to Netanyahu saying that Strache will do all he can to have Austria move its embassy to Jerusalem. Glick said Strache was very pro-Israel and said things that appeal to the Israeli right wing, such as that the State of Israel has the right to build anywhere in the Land of Israel. Strache also talked about Israel and Austria’s shared interest in fighting radical Islamic terrorism. But, the catch is that Strache and his Freedom Party needed a meeting like this as part of its longstanding apology tour. The Israeli Foreign Ministry has boycotted the Freedom Party since the 1980s, when Jorg Haider, an outspoken Nazi sympathizer, became its leader. Strache has long tried to distance himself from Haider, visiting Yad Vashem last year. And now, ahead of a legislative election coming up in October, he can boast that he met with someone who is a symbol of the Israeli far-right and settlers. In fact, Strache tweeted a photo from the meeting and said that Glick will help him overturn the Freedom Party boycott. Glick himself was more circumspect, and said after the meeting that he is not endorsing any party, and that he doesn’t have any say in Foreign Ministry policy, but that he thinks Strache is genuinely pro-Israel.