National Press Club

Israeli defense official opposes negotiations with Palestinian unity government that includes Hamas

May 30, 2014 | By Lorna Aldrich |

Israel Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon speaks at a National Press Club Newsmaker, May 29, 2014.

Israel Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon speaks at a National Press Club Newsmaker, May 29, 2014.

Photo/Image: Noel St. John

Israel cannot negotiate with a Palestinian unity government that includes Hamas, a group the U.S., Israel and the European Union have designated a "terrorist" organization, Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon said at a National Press Club Newsmaker on May 29.

"We cannot sit and negotiate with a unity government involving Hamas," Danon said, referring to ongoing discussions among political leaders of Fatah and Hamas to create a unified Palestinian government.

The deputy minister contended that other governments and NGOs would also balk at negotiating with such a government.

He also rejected prisoner release as a condition for peace negotiations, which he called "release of murderers."

Danon also rejects a two-state solution for peace between Israel and Palestinians. Trading land for peace won't result in peace if the other party does not want it, he said. He cited the example of Gaza, from which Israelis have withdrawn, but where Hamas rocket attacks continue.

Danon favors an eventual solution in the Mideast that would involve Israel, Jordan and Egypt. He proposes that Palestinians in Jordan would "walk with" Jordanians and Palestinians in Egypt would "walk with" Egyptians.

The reality, he said, is that Israel must "manage the conflict" until it has a "viable partner" with which it could "sit down and negotiate the future of Israel."

The resulting defense stance is not only military but focused on the home front, he said. "We need to protect everybody," he said, mentioning Jews, Arabs and Christians.

He declined to confirm or deny that Israeli has nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, but added, "We Israelis are not the threat."

The countries in the region fear Iran, not Israel, he said. Sanctions have not worked to curtail Iran's nuclear program and Iran is "open for business," Danon said.

"We have very good reason to be paranoid," he said.

He cited some optimistic trends. Israel has a strong economy, a strong democracy and an environment which is "open for minorities." He called the Pope's visit to Israel "an important moment."