Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed on Wednesday to maintain a permanent Israeli military force in the West Bank, saying that if it weren’t for Israeli troops stationed there, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas would be “overrun in two minutes” by Hamas militants.
Netanyahu told a conference of a major Jewish organisation that Israel did not have the liberty to repeat its mistake in the Gaza Strip, where Hamas forces violently seized control from Abbas forces after Israel withdrew.
Asked about his vision for the West Bank, he said he preferred to avoid labels such as “Palestinian state.” But he did make clear his view that Abbas, known by his nickname Abu Mazen, and his Palestinian Authority owe their very existence to Israel’s protection.
“They should have all the powers to govern themselves but none of the powers to threaten us,” Netanyahu said in conversation before the General Assembly of the Jewish Federation of North America.
“West of the Jordan (River), Israel, and Israel alone, will be responsible for security.” “Guess who benefits from that? It’s the PA. They’d be overrun in two minutes. A couple of years ago we uncovered a plot of Hamas to overthrow Abu Mazen. Overthrow? Kill him. Not kill him politically. Kill him. So, if we weren’t there, they’d not be there, which is exactly what happened when we left Gaza.”
Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005, evacuating its settlements there and pulling back all its troops. The following year, Hamas won parliamentary elections and a year after that they violently overthrew forces loyal to Abbas and have ruled with an iron fist since.