Raphaella Segal, a founding member in 1975 of the West Bank settlement of Kedumim, completed a two-week trip to the United States last week to speak about the danger of a two-state solution to end the Palestinian conflict. Segal, 60, who holds the title of assistant mayor of Kedumim and is responsible for its public relations, lives in the community of 5,000 with her husband. This is an edited transcript.
Q: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has embraced the idea of a two-state solution. Why are you against it?
A: What we hear from President [Barack] Obama and his vice president is that there is a narrow corridor of time that we have to utilize to come to an agreement. Otherwise, they argue, we lose and things become worse.
What I have learned from living in this area for 37 years is that time is with us, that we must learn not to make mistakes and not to hurry. What we learned as a result of the Gaza redeployment is that we should not rush and make the same mistakes — especially now when the whole area is shaking. With what we are hearing from the regimes around us — Turkey, Egypt, Jordan and now Syria — the last thing we need is to establish a hostile Palestinian state.
Why do you believe it will be hostile?
In the last few years, the Palestinian Authority changed its approach. It wrote that now is the time for diplomacy and that the time for resistance will come. That means they understand that they can achieve statehood through diplomacy, like going to the United Nations and getting diplomatic support. In so doing, they are building a state without an agreement with Israel.
What was the focus of your visit to the United States?
I stressed that the alternative to a two-state solution is for Israel to continue to control the area and to try to find a solution of how to live together. I don’t say the situation now is ideal.
More and more people are saying we have to rethink the two-state solution. [Palestinian President] Abu Mazen is weak, and if we sign an agreement with him a week later Hamas could take over and he’d be gone. … That would be disaster for Israel.
What do you propose to replace a two-state solution?
The idea is to strengthen the [settlements] by building more. Bibi [Netanyahu] is trapped and has to find a way to get out of it. … [Economic Minister Naftali] Bennett has an idea to annex Area C and to give the 40,000 Palestinians living there Israeli citizenship if they want it. Israel could handle that.
Other politicians are speaking about an idea to take control of Judea and Samaria [the West Bank] and annex it and give citizenship to all Palestinians. This is an extreme idea, but [an analyst] said that the threat to Israel from annexing the area, which has 700,000 voting-age Palestinians, would be less than the threat from a two-state solution. More and more such ideas are on the table, and we have to continue to speak about them.
What would you be willing to give up in return for peace with the Palestinians?
For over 20 years Israel has given a lot for the idea of peace, and many Israelis were murdered because of our willingness to give [Palestinians] weapons and control of cities and places. So the idea of giving up something has already been tried.
The idea of peace is not on the table. What we are willing to do today is annex the land in our hands and give citizenship to the Palestinians living there. Those in other areas can have Jordanian citizenship or autonomy, not a state. No one in Israel is talking of peace, but rather an arrangement whereby everyone would live their lives. I believe that one day there will be peace when [the Palestinians] recognize us and our ownership of this area. Our problem is with their leadership and not with the people who want a normal life.
What is your reaction to the price tag attacks by radical Israeli settlers who seek to exact revenge for actions believed taken against them by Palestinians or Israeli security forces?
We are totally against all price tag violence and are waiting to see the police catch these guys. These are gangs of marginal people, and we don’t understand why it is taking so long to catch them.