Minister says Israel faces historic opportunity to nix two-state solution
GALI TIBBON (AFP)
Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett on Saturday called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to refrain from mentioning a Palestinian state in his joint statement with US President Donald Trump expected to be released after the leaders' upcoming meeting.
Israel's security cabinet is expected to convene on Sunday to discuss the policies that Netanyahu will present during his meeting with Trump at the White House on February 15.
Writing on his Facebook page, hard-liner Bennett said that if the statement mentions "two states" in any capacity, "the earth will shake" and called the meeting "the test of Benjamin Netanyahu's life."
The minister's comments signaled a belief that the new US administration presented a historic opportunity for Israel's right wing.
Bennett wrote that after "dozens of miserable years," Israel now faces "a new path: Letting go of establishing another Palestinian state, in addition to that in Gaza and Jordan [. . .] Now we must convey power, commitment to peace from security, initiative, sovereignty."
He further stated that "that is the entire difference between the Let and Right. The Left supports creating a Palestinian state. The Right opposes its establishment."
Bennett warned that if Israel continues to state support for the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, "Israel will continue to be attacked" about why it did not establish the state it claimed to support. "Our representatives in the world will continue to stutter a policy of 'We will establish Palestine but not just yet,'" he continued. "The historic opportunity of Trump's election will be missed: If Israel chooses to establish Palestine in the Trump-Netanyahu era, there is no way back.
"The two words 'Palestinian state' are a historic disaster," the education minister said. "They must not be said. That is our test," he concluded.
Israel's Haaretz daily reported on Friday that Bennett, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and other right-wing lawmakers, have argued that Trump's November 8 victory had provided an opportunity for Israel to update its policies with regards to the Palestinians and remove independent Palestinian statehood from the American agenda.
Bennett was said to be pressuring Netanyahu to distance himself from a 2009 speech in which the premier said he would be willing to accept an independent demilitarized Palestinian state in exchange for their recognition of Israel as a Jewish State.
Bennet was instead reportedly pushing Netanyahu to present an updated policy which objects to any curbs on settlement construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem and which abandons the two-state solution, Ha'aretz said.
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