Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett issued on Thursday his first-ever
threat to take his Bayit Yehudi party out of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s
coalition, amid rumors of imminent negotiations with the Palestinians based on
pre- 1967 lines.
Bennett had previously stated on countless occasions
that he had no problem with there being negotiations with the Palestinians,
because he did not believe that they would accomplish anything.
issuing his threat on Thursday, he added a condition to his previous statements
that he would not leave the government over the initiation of
“Bayit Yehudi under my leadership will not be a partner, even for
a second, in a government that agrees to negotiate on the basis of the 1967
lines,” he said. “Our capital Jerusalem is not and never will be
Bennett issued the threat even though he knew that Netanyahu
had denied a Reuters report
that he had agreed to American understandings that
1967 lines would be the basis for talks.
Sources in Bayit Yehudi said
that despite Netanyahu’s denial, Bennett could not ignore that the armistice
lines were on the agenda.
“Naftali had to reassure his constituency that
he has red lines,” a source close to Bennett said. “He had to make his position
clear, in case someone believes he would actually be a part of a government that
would negotiate on that basis.”
Hours before Bennett issued his threat,
opposition leader Shelly Yacimovich again pledged her Labor Party’s support for
Netanyahu’s peace efforts in the event that Bayit Yehudi would threaten to leave
“We will grant you a strong and effective safety net if
you encounter political difficulties from your current allies,” she wrote to the
Yacimovich wrote that the European Union decision to deny
funding to Israeli business, academic and cultural projects based in Jewish
settlements in the West Bank was “a painful reminder” of the need to abandon
Israel’s “passivity” as it relates to its attitude toward peace.
document is a painful reminder of the strategic, economic and security dangers
inherent in a diplomatic stalemate,” she said. “It would be an abdication of
responsibility and a demonstration of a lack of leadership to continue with this
passivity and to respond to events instead of initiating them.”
secretary-general, MK Hilik Bar, also wrote to Netanyahu on Thursday, urging him
to react to the EU decision by adopting his “Two States Bill,” which calls for
the final status of the West Bank to be determined as part of a peace agreement
leading to a two-state solution and not by annexation.
“We must adjust to
the EU’s unfortunate decision and internalize that it expresses mistrust in
Israel’s intentions to advance the diplomatic process,” Bar wrote to Netanyahu.
“That is why I am writing you to urge you to support the bill, whose goal is to
support your efforts [to restart diplomatic talks].”