Several years ago, you started and sold a high-tech company.
Yes, I founded and sold a company, Cyota, for $145 million. I was the CEO. We founded it in 1999, so I was 27. Then the Second Lebanese War started and I had to go fight, and that gets you thinking: What does Hezbollah want with us? I realized they just don’t want us here. I decided, I’m not going back to the business world, which is really my passion. I’m going to dedicate myself to the state of Israel. At that point in time, [current Prime Minister] Benjamin Netanyahu was the head of the opposition. He was looking for a chief of staff. I joined him for a couple of years, from 2006 to 2008.
You didn’t get along in the end, did you?
We didn’t have a fight, contrary to what people think, but it’s no secret that in the last few years, we’ve not been in touch.
Do you think Netanyahu views you as a rival?
Well, I lead a party that competes with the Likud, so we are political rivals. I highly respect him, but I also have profound disagreements with him.
What do you disagree over?
Netanyahu supports — and he truly does support — building a Palestinian state within Israel.
Why do you disagree with him over that?
What we’ve learned over the past 20 years is that each time we gave up land of ours, within a very short time frame, terrorists initiated severe attacks from that land and killed thousands of Israelis.
You said that you’re “vehemently against a Palestinian state.” Don’t you believe that it’s in Israel’s interest to find a solution to the Palestinian problem?
There’s a disagreement here. It’s legitimate.
What about the demographics? Don’t you worry about them?
I’m actually very optimistic. I think that everyone’s going down a path of a diplomatic process, which is not possible. But there’s an alternative of real peace between people in the field.
There are 1.5 million Arabs in Judea and Samaria, and 400,000 Israelis in Judea and Samaria — a.k.a the West Bank. No one’s going anywhere. These people deserve rights, they deserve to live a good life. What’s happening de facto is there’s growing coexistence. We’re not on the hills singing “Kumbaya” together, but we’re getting along. There are roughly 22,000 Palestinians working side by side with what you call settlers in factories and malls in the West Bank. If you work together, you start understanding each other.
Didn’t you call on Israel to annex Area C [the 60 percentof the West Bank that is under complete Israeli control]?
Yes, I’ll explain everything. . . . They [the Palestinian leaders] don’t accept the very existence of Israel as a Jewish state. So instead of fighting about what we can’t agree on, I would do a Marshall Plan for Judea and Samaria for everyone.