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Danny Danon’s big ideas? Draft Arabs and reject two states

INTERVIEW

    Likud Knesset member Danny Danon is nothing if not bullish. His political opinions are, to put it mildly, at odds even with his own party leader. In the last Knesset he was deputy speaker but he has managed to disagree with the political establishment on almost every important issue, from vehemently opposing the disengagement from Gaza when Ariel Sharon was in charge, to attacking the principle of a two-state solution, to which even Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu subscribes.

    Mr Danon’s views are laid out in a new book, Israel, The Will To Prevail, aimed primarily at an American readership. “Talks on the establishment of a Palestinian state must cease, effective immediately,” he writes. Expanding on this theme in a Tel Aviv coffee shop, Mr Danon declares: “The main issue is that there should not be a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria. You can see what’s happening in Gaza. I’m not saying we should not negotiate, but we should come up with a different solution.”

    His book describes a vision of a “three-state solution” in which Israel, Jordan and Egypt will be involved. “Our goal is to have the majority of land in Judea and Samaria without a Palestinian population, which includes Jewish communities and the vacant land. We would not annex those areas heavily populated with Palestinians. What we would do is offer Palestinians connection with Palestinian towns, where they would be able to travel freely from place to place without being stopped by roadblocks... as for civil issues, different regional centres would run the daily civic life of Palestinians.”

    I wondered how Mr Danon thought this scheme would play with President Barack Obama, due to make his first visit as president to Israel in the coming months. But the MK sidestepped the question, instead claiming that his first approach to Mr Obama would be to ask him to release the convicted US spy, Jonathan Pollard.

    I ask what else might be on his “shopping list” of requests to Mr Obama. Iran, Mr Danon says, is top of the list. He wants America to apply “crippling sanctions” to Iran.

    Inevitably our discussion comes round to “sharing the burden” of national service. Mr Danon would like Israeli Arabs to do national service, too, he says. “They could be in the army or they could be firefighters. They should give something back to the country. We shouldn’t force them to do this, to put them on a bus or something, but we should tell them — sharing the burden can be to their benefit.”

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