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Israeli defense minister tells Saudi paper: ‘Jerusalem to stay united’

Calls for Palestinians to return to the table in the light of new peace accords with Israel

Defense Minister Benny Gantz addressing the public, Dec. 1, 2020 (Photo: Minister Gantz's Office)

In an interview with a Saudi-owned newspaper, Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz said he had made a number of clandestine visits to Arab states as part of his military service, and now he is looking forward to visiting in an official capacity.

Gantz, who is also the alternate prime minister, told Asharq al-Awsat that while he supports a Palestinian entity, Jerusalem must remain the united capital of Israel. He said there is enough room for a Palestinian capital in the city as well, Haaretz reported.

Jerusalem is a “spacious city that is full of sites which are sacred for all,” he said in the interview published on Thursday. But he added, Israel “will not go back to the 1967 borders.”

Israel must maintain control over the Jordan Valley for defense purposes. He conceded that some of the region would have to be annexed and that could be decided during negotiations.

“Palestinians deserve an entity to live in independently,” he said, adding that they should have contiguous territory.

In a peace plan put forth by U.S. President Donald Trump, the proposed Palestinian capital would be Abu Dis, a town on the eastern outskirts of Jerusalem

Gantz also called for Palestinian leadership to return to the negotiating table and benefit from the normalization treaties that Israel has entered with other Arab nations such as the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco.

“I want Palestinians to be part of the peace process. The push for normalization within the Arab world is a great and real opportunity,” he said.

“As soon as we agree on security issues, the political solution will be much easier,” he said.

Palestinians have expressed outrage at the normalization deals, calling these countries traitors.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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