Israeli MK Danny Danon: Don’t Call Him a Lefty
With the looming threat of the Palestinian Authority, in partnership with Hamas, seeking unilateral recognition of Palestine as a sovereign nation — with east Jerusalem as its capital — later this month during the U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York, Red Thread wanted to know what that prospect really meant to Israel.
To get the answer, we reached out to Danny Danon, deputy speaker of the Israeli Knesset, whose often-candid remarks can make Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appear dovish by comparison. Danon also serves as chairman of World Likud, the mouthpiece of Bibi’s political party.
It would be near impossible to impeach Danon’s conservative bona fides. Besides hosting conservative American firebrand Glenn Beck during a session of the Israeli parliament over the summer, Danon wrote in a May 18 Op-Ed for the New York Times: “… [Netanyahu] should annex the Jewish communities of the West Bank, or as Israelis prefer to refer to our historic heartland, Judea and Samaria.”
In an interview last month on Al Jazeera English television, Danon, 41, reportedly said: “There is place only for one state on the land of Israel,” later adding, “I do not believe in a two-state solution.”
RT: What tangible effect would a request by the Palestinian Authority for recognition of statehood at the U.N. General Assembly’s meeting this month have on Israel?
DD: A unilateral request for Palestinian statehood is a blatant violation of the Oslo Accords. If the Palestinian Authority unilaterally declares Palestinian statehood, thereby violating the conditions of the signed Oslo Accords, then Israel reserves the right to unilaterally implement full sovereignty over the land in which the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria currently reside.
A Palestinian state would create an existential threat to Israel. It would directly threaten the security of all Israeli citizens by enabling Hamas to fire rockets deeper into Israel, including Tel Aviv and, not to mention, directly into Jerusalem.
RT: Could the possibility of recognition help kick-start the peace process?
DD: Peace will not be achieved until we deal with viable partners. Hamas is not a viable partner. Until there is a complete change in the way that Palestinians educate their children, it cannot be expected that they will be willing to make peace. There is no point to enforce a peace agreement, which will essentially only be meaningful on paper.
RT: Is the demand that Jerusalem be partitioned, so the eastern half of the city becomes the new capital of a Palestinian state, reasonable?
DD: Jerusalem will not be divided. Any partition plan poses imminent danger to Israel and its citizens. Aside from the security threats, former prime ministers have always maintained a strong connection to all of Jerusalem as the eternal capital of the Jewish people. David Ben-Gurion moved the Knesset from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem as a symbol of this connection. Levi Eshkol never differentiated between east and west Jerusalem or who lived there before or after 1967. What’s more, 80 percent of Israelis polled are adamantly against any form of compromise [in dividing] Jerusalem, Israel’s capital.
RT: If you were the prime minister, what would be the first step you would take to reinvigorate the peace process?
DD: I would firmly tell them that if they choose to continue to operate in this matter, through institutionalized incitement and terrorism, or seek a unilateral U.N. vote for Palestinian statehood, then Israel will unilaterally implement sovereignty over Judea and Samaria.
RT: The ongoing “tent protest” movement questioning the government’s commitment to social welfare has galvanized the middle class. How does a country that was founded on socialist ideals and a centralized economy balance the effects of laissez-faire free markets?
DD: I identify with those people. The protest is real and legitimate; however, certain interest groups are abusing it to advance their personal agenda. The government must act to bring about these economic changes, but it should be socially sensitive while making the appropriate revisions so that Israel does not suffer economic strife like Greece and Spain.
RT: Do the winds of the Arab spring bring chills to Israeli MKs?
DD: What is happening in Israel is different from what happened in the Arab Spring. These passive protestors are exercising their democratic right; the Arab nations are not democracies. As for their internal regime shifts, Israel can only hope that whoever comes to power will not become an enemy of Israel.
RT: Much has been made of the increasing concentration of wealth in the hands of a few. How can the government resolve that charge?
DD: The Israeli market is limited and, therefore, the problem of excessive concentration occurs. We must increase competition within the market while applying specific bylaws through regulatory tools. The government should provide incentives for domestic production while increasing foreign export.
RT: Rosh Hashanah is nearly upon us; what is your hope for 5772?
DD: I hope for a year filled with a stronger sense of Zionism and a deeper commitment of the Jewish people to their eternal right to the Land of Israel.