A Knesset member visiting Los Angeles this week accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of buckling under intense pressure from President Barack Obama, who wants to prevent any Israeli retaliation against the Palestinian Authority (PA) in its bid to win recognition as a state from the United Nations.
Aryeh Eldad, a member of the self-described “right-wing” Hatikvah faction of the National Union party, charged that Obama was holding Netanyahu “at gunpoint” — the gun being the U.S. threat to go back on its promise to veto the Palestinian statehood bid in the U.N. Security Council.
Specifically, Eldad claimed that Obama has demanded that Netanyahu and Israel’s supporters in the United States pressure Congress to abort two pending resolutions to penalize the PA if it pursues its bid.
One would shut off U.S. aid funds to the Palestinians and a second would support Israel’s right to annex the West Bank. The legal justification for such actions, cited by many Israeli officials, would be that the unilateral statehood request would be a direct violation of the 1993 Oslo accords.
Eldad said he was certain of the accuracy of his information, but declined to name his sources.
The PA bid is scheduled to be presented to the United Nations on Sept. 23, and Obama and Netanyahu are to meet the same day.
“Netanyahu is the first Israeli prime minister who hasn’t threatened sanctions if the PA seeks unilateral statehood,” Eldad said during a phone interview on Sept. 19.
Asked what he would do if he were prime minister, Eldad replied, “I would immediately annex Judea and Samaria (West Bank). There will be some riots, as in the two intifadas, but this will happen in any case, because the expectations of the Palestinians can never be met. They think the sun will rise in the West the day after independence.”
Eldad’s National Union Party has four Knesset seats and is in the opposition, but he asserts that a total of 42 members, many belonging to the government coalition, share his viewpoint.
As to his stand on an eventual negotiated two-state solution, Eldad, a prominent physician before he turned to politics, said he was enthusiastically in favor — as long as the Palestinian state was Jordan.
He predicted that when the Arab spring uprisings reached Jordan, Palestinians, who make up the majority of the population, would take over and turn the country into their own state.
If this happens, Eldad said, he would oppose a forcible transfer of Palestinians from the West Bank to Jordan.
Eldad is nearing the end of his 15-day stay in the United States, during which he lobbied Congress members in Washington, D.C., met with Jewish organizations in New York, and on Sept. 18 addressed some 2,000 Evangelical Christians at the Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa.
Based on his various meetings, he described the American Jewish community as largely confused, with even strong lobbies such as AIPAC sidelined, “as long as Netanyahu is not strong enough to lead.”
Will there ever be peace? “Maybe in four generations,” Eldad responded, Israel and its neighbors will find equilibrium, “like Europe after its religious wars.”