Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi sought to offer some clarity Monday on Israel’s position in the wake of President Donald Trump’s statement that he could accept either a one or two-state solution to the Mideast conflict.
Hanegbi, a senior Likud official and reputedly a confidante of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, said that nothing has changed as far as Israeli policy is concerned. Netanyahu’s support for a Palestinian state, declared at Bar Ilan University in 2009, still stands.
“It did not change since then. It’s still [the] valid policy of the prime minister of Israel and therefore the government of Israel,” Hanegbi told a visiting delegation of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, according to Times of Israel.
“The principles of the Bar Ilan speech became more relevant today than at the time they were given. The Middle East is not the Middle East of 2009.”
Hanegbi asserted that Trump’s comments did not mean he was peremptorily abandoning the decades-long support for a two-state solution. He cited U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley’s reaffirmation of that policy the following day.
All Trump meant, he said, was that — unlike former President Barack Obama — he is not going to try to impose his own agenda on the Israelis and Palestinians.
Furthermore, Hanegbi unequivocally ruled out a one-state solution.
It is “out of the question. One state will never happen. No Israeli leader will allow Israel to become a potentially Arab state in the future,” he said.
The status quo is “a tragedy, but it’s not our tragedy. It’s a Palestinian tragedy,” the minister said.
“We can accept another 50 years of stalemate,” he continued, but added that “we don’t want it.”
However, at the same meeting on Monday, Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home) warned again that the creation of a Palestinian state would be disastrous.
“If we establish a Palestinian state in Yehudah and Shomron, that state will open up the gates and we’ll see a flood of refugees enter Yehudah and Shomron” that would destroy the Jewish majority in Israel, he said.
And in comments cited by The Jerusalem Post, Bennett said: “Anyone who thinks these millions of refugees will enter Yehudah and Shomron … and remain content there is mistaken.” Rather, predicted Bennett, they would soon head for Tel Aviv and Haifa.