Speaking to reporters Thursday evening in a nationally televised briefing to announce the establishment of an official peace deal and full diplomatic relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also said President Donald Trump – who had brokered the deal – requested that Israel temporarily suspend its extension of sovereignty to her Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley.
Netanyahu was hard-pressed to convince skeptical Israeli journalists and bitterly disappointed community leaders that the “suspension” was anything less than a cancellation dressed up in the ‘Emperor’s New Clothes.’ Nevertheless, said Netanyahu, sovereignty is not off the table. Following is a transcript of his remarks. (Above is the video of the discussion, albeit in Hebrew.)
“Just as I promised I would reach peace with the Arab world — and all of you said, how can you bring peace with an Arab state if you don’t first agree to establishment of a Palestinian state on the “1967 border” … I also said that I would extend sovereignty to our areas of Judea and Samaria.
There is no change to my plan to extend sovereignty in Judea and Samaria, in full coordination with the US. That hasn’t changed.
I want to remind you that I’m the one who put the issue of Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria on the table. This is staying on the table and it will remain on the table.
It only went on the table because of my efforts. I worked on it for three years with intensive talks with President Trump. And thank G-d we have seen results. President Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, he moved the American Embassy there from Tel Aviv, he recognized our sovereignty over the Golan Heights, he recognized the legality of Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria, and more than that, President Trump added the issue of sovereignty to his Middle East Peace Plan at my request.
None of that happened out of the blue. It wasn’t an accident. It happened due to my efforts, and those of President Trump. But one thing more. I have said over and over, time after time: the implementation of the plan for sovereignty will only take place in coordination with the United States.
Declaring sovereignty without US support would at best be worthless, and at worst would seriously hurt the settlement enterprise and the State of Israel.
Now President Trump, who is the tower of friendship to the State of Israel, who agreed to include the extension of sovereignty in his peace plan at my request, has asked that Israel delay – temporarily – the declaration of sovereignty.
He said we first need to secure the peace deal with the United Arab Emirates, and I believe with the other Arab states as well.
But I did not abandon, nor will I abandon the issue of sovereignty; and just as I reached peace with an Arab state so too will I declare sovereignty. I’m committed to sovereignty. I’m committed to the Land of Israel, and I will never surrender our rights to our land.
President Trump and his team requested a temporary – and I repeat, temporary – delay so the peace process can move forward, and I agreed.”