Q:  How do you defend this Israeli government's fairly empathetic policy on settlements to Americans — Jews, politicians — who think it is destructive  for the prospect of resumed negotiations and progress?

History comes in handy. In 2000 and 2008 we made serious offers for the creation of a Palestinian state, and the Palestinians turned that down — not because of the settlements. You could say that Israel tried to create a Palestinian state in 1967, or an autonomous entity, right after the Six-Day War. There were no settlements. But the Palestinians turned that down too. They turned down the Partition Resolution of 1947 and 1937 (a reference to the Peel Commission). The settlements are not the issue.

On a personal level, I participated as a reserve officer in the disengagement from Gaza in 2005. And it was one of the most traumatic  experiences not just of my military career, but of my life. And we did that to advance peace, and we didn't get peace. We uprooted 21 settlements and we didn't get peace. We got rockets.

It's not about settlements. We understand that settlements is an issue that will be determined within negotiations with the Palestinians. Prime Minister Netanyahu got up in front of both houses of the Congress and said that he understood that in the event of peace with the Palestinians there would be settlements that would lie beyond Israel's borders.