Senior Likud MK: Netanyahu will never recognize a Palestinian state
MK Miki Zohar, 2019.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
“We can’t allow for a terror state to be created here,” Yesha Council CEO Yigal Dilmoni told reporters earlier in the day.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will not bring recognition of a Palestinian state to a vote under any circumstances in the cabinet or Knesset, coalition chairman MK Miki Zohar, a close confidant of the prime minister, said on Tuesday.“We will never recognize a Palestinian state,” Zohar said. “The prime minister announced yesterday, in the faction meeting, that in any constellation the government and the Knesset will not recognize the principle of establishing a Palestinian state.”Zohar added that US President Donald Trump’s peace plan is “historic and an opportunity that we cannot miss,” saying that no Jews will be evacuated from their homes, there will be contiguous Israeli sovereignty in the West Bank and Israel will control the major roads.Netanyahu has been clear that he has no plans to bring acceptance of a Palestinian state – which is part of the Trump plan – to a vote in the cabinet or the Knesset in the near future. But Netanyahu has never rescinded his 2009 Bar-Ilan pledge to recognize a demilitarized Palestinian state and has been careful to clarify that he plans to negotiate with the Palestinians on the basis of the Trump plan.
Zohar’s tweet came in response to an intense campaign by leaders of the Yesah Council against Trump’s plan, specifically their fear that it would create a Palestinian state.“We can’t allow for a terror state to be created here,” Yesha Council CEO Yigal Dilmoni told reporters earlier in the day.To illustrate his points, Dilmoni spoke at a lookout point in the Ateret settlement, one of the 15 that, according to Trump’s peace plan, would be an Israeli enclave within a future Palestinian state.On the next hilltop, the city of Rawabi, with its high apartment buildings and a Palestinian flag that fluttered in the breeze, was clearly visible.The settlers so fear the creation of a state that the flag symbolizes, that they have honed their message to focus on the prevention of a Palestinian state. “What they have brought us now is a first step toward sovereignty and a first step toward a Palestinian state. We don’t want these things to occur together. Therefore, if they tell us that they will not accept the Deal of the Century but that sovereignty will be applied on part of the territory, without allowing an option for a Palestinian state and or a linkage to the Deal of the Century, then that is something we can talk about,” Dilmoni said.He later clarified for The Jerusalem Post that settler leaders would accept a plan to apply sovereignty in stages, as long as Israel rejected the creation of a Palestinian state. There is speculation that Netanyahu may weigh a phased sovereignty plan in an effort to secure the support of Alternate Prime Minister and Defense Ministery Benny Gantz on annexation. The US wants Gantz on board with the plan.“There must be sovereignty, even if it is in stages, but in no way can there be a Palestinian state, nor a [settlement building] freeze, and no enclave settlements,” Dilmoni said. His preference would be for sovereignty to be applied over 40% of the West Bank, a number which he feels is a fair equivalent to the 40% of the West Bank which is already under the PA auspices. But such decisions are not always up to him. The Trump plan calls for the application of sovereignty to 30% of the West Bank.Dilmoni clarified that there was a limit to how many concessions the settler community can be asked to make. He noted that Israel has already withdrawn settlers from the Sinai Desert in 1982 and from Gaza during the 2015 withdrawal.Netanyahu has also clarified that he has no plans for a settlement freeze and that he would provide for some form of territorial contiguity between the settlements. But the Yesha Council fears that at the end of the day Netanyahu will press forward with a map that violates their three red-lines; “no” to a Palestinian state, “no” to a freeze and “no” to settlement enclaves.Not all the settlers are opposed to the plan, with some 12 for the. 25 settler leaders in the Yesha Council coming out in its favor. They feel that opposition to the plan could thwart its execution and the opportunity for sovereignty would be lost.Binyamin Regional Council leader Israel Gantz who also met with the journalists, defended the decision by the opponents of the plan to speak out, noting that “We are not fighting against sovereignty, we are fighting for it. There is no reason why the plan should include elements that endangers the settlements. We will do everything to ensure that sovereignty will happen,” he said.