- - Wednesday, March 5, 2014

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

This week, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Washington, we were reminded yet again that there are those who plan to pressure him in the hope that he will soften his stance on the important issues at stake in our talks with the Palestinians.

As the prime minister was traveling to the United States, we read with great concern of the threats aimed at the state of Israel, insinuating that a refusal to capitulate to the Palestinians will have grave consequences for our people.

These voices seem to think that the prime minister can be swayed to abandon the platform of the Likud Party that elected him and separate him from the ideology and values he has espoused for so long.

These same people hope to take advantage of the supposed rift between Mr. Netanyahu and elements within our party. As is often the case, the differences that exist in our democratic movement have been greatly exaggerated by the media.

The truth is that the Likud Party is united in support of the prime minister. We stand strongly behind him and are confident that he will remain resolute and defend the core principles, which are nonnegotiable under any circumstance during his discussions with our American friends.

Mr. Netanyahu’s basic demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as the national state of the Jewish people has unanimous support in the Likud.

Many in the international community, and some voices here in Israel, wonder why this is such an important principle for us. It is not because Israel, as an independent and sovereign state, needs validation for who we are as a nation.

Rather it is instead the realpolitik realization that until the moment comes when they accept our existence as a Jewish state, we will never be able to fully trust that the Palestinians wish to live together with us in full peace and security.

Their refusal to do so until this point indicates that the true plan of the Palestinian Authority is, in fact, to deny the existence of a Jewish state in any part of the historic land of Israel and not merely to force us to abandon the heartland of Judea and Samaria.

In addition, we are also confident that the prime minister will make clear to our American allies that we will be not accept even the suggestion of a return to the dangerous pre-1967 borders. Like most Israelis, the prime minister's party has learned the lessons of the 2005 Gaza withdrawal.

We will not allow a situation where the vast majority of our citizens live under a constant threat of missile fire and terrorism. Even those who believe that Palestinian leader Abu Mazen is genuine in his pursuit of peace realize that there are no guarantees in the Middle East.

It is a very likely scenario that the day after we would abandon Judea and Samaria, the Iranians will quickly enter the scene and establish a proxy state under Hamas leadership.

Our interception this week of an Iranian arms ship in the Red Sea filled with M-302 rockets bound for Gaza is yet another reminder of the possible repercussions for such a move.

Finally, an Israeli government led by the Likud cannot accept any proposal that even hints at the division of Jerusalem. We are united in our confidence in the prime minster on this issue as well.

We have no doubt that he will continue to state in the clearest of ways that the holiest site in the world to the Jewish people, and the city that already served as our capital 3,000 years ago in the days of King David, will not be divided under our watch.

This is not only a question of basic security that will affect the safety of the citizens of the greater Jerusalem region, but a moral and existential matter, which pertains to who we are as a people and the respect we pay to our age-old traditions.

Mr. Netanyahu does not stand alone. He represents a broad movement led by the Likud Party, which was re-elected on the basis of our clear platform by the Israeli public last year.

The Likud respects the traditions and beliefs of the Jewish people, is committed to the land of Israel, and will uphold its unyielding pledge to enhance the security of the state of Israel.

By staying true to these values, it is our hope and belief that even in these tumultuous times, our party will continue to lead Israel toward a secure and prosperous future.

Danny Danon is deputy defense minister of Israel and author of “Israel: The Will to Prevail” (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012).

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