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Netanyahu says will weigh Trump peace plan on Israel's security interests

In this May 23, 2017, file photo, U.S. President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands at the Israel museum in Jerusalem.
AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner, File
Reports that PM backed plan which would recognize a Palestinian state riled up Netanyahu's political allies

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that his response to any peace plan proposed by the administration of United States President Donald Trump will ultimately be based on Israel's national and security interests, a fact which he said has already been communicated to the US.

Speaking at the opening of his weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu declined to address reports that he had given backing to a US peace proposal that would see the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, though not necessarily according to 1967 borders.

"About President Trump's diplomatic plan, we heard a lot of speculation over the weekend, and I will not address it. I do want to say that my stance will be decided by the security and national interests of the State of Israel. This was clarified to our friends the Americans."

The report by Israel’s Hadashot news (formerly Channel 2) cited Israeli sources as saying that Trump intends to propose that the Palestinians declare independence after which the US would recognize a Palestinian state.

The Trump administration will also accept Israel’s security need to maintain the presence of the IDF in the Jordan Valley, a section of the West Bank that runs directly alongside the Jordan River, the report said.

Netanyahu was described as being incentivized to accept the plan as there might not be a better offer from a future White House or a friendlier US president.

Netanyahu’s office denied the accuracy of the report, stressing that the prime minister’s acceptance of the plan will depend on its details.

A senior White House official described the reported proposal as being "for the most part a mishmash of ideas that have been bandied about for years and are not necessarily accurate."

The report managed to rile up Netanyahu's political allies nonetheless, with a government minister from the Jewish Home party threatening to tank the Prime Minister's ruling coalition if he accepts any plan which recognizes a Palestinian state.

“The National Union will not remain in a government that recognizes a Palestinian state,” Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel said in statement immediately after the report, referring to the faction he heads within Jewish Home.

While Ariel's withdrawal would not be enough to collapse the coalition's narrow majority in parliament on its own, he claimed that "there are also Knesset members in Likud and Jewish Home who have made clear that they will not agree to transfer swaths of land to the Palestinian Authority," which was reported to have been a central plank of the plan.

Shortly after coming to power, Trump assigned his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner and former personal lawyer Jason Greenblatt the task of finding a way to revive the moribund peace process.

Attempts at getting Israeli and Palestinian negotiators back to the table have lain fallow since the previous US administration gave up on intense shuttle diplomacy by former Secretary of State John Kerry in early 2014.

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“The National Union will not remain in a government that recognizes a Palestinian state” Country of haters. What better proof do you need that god does not exist?

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