Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu distanced himself from an official
communique released by his bureau and which was to serve as a joint
statement with the Polish government affirming Palestinians’ right to
statehood, both Army Radio and Channel 10 reported Wednesday morning.
who is traveling to Warsaw to meet with Polish officials, reportedly
took issue with the language of the communique, specifically the part
which said that unilateral steps by both sides were obstacles to a peace
agreement. The implication in that statement is that Netanyahu was
taking a stand against construction in West Bank settlements, a position
which would complicate his political standing at home.
did not go over the text of the statement,” an aide to the prime
minister told Army Radio. “It was written by junior-level officials in
the National Security Council.”
“Unilateral steps by either party
are counterproductive to achieving a sustainable lasting peace,” the
joint statement declares. “We welcome the US government’s efforts in
this regard, particularly those of US Secretary of State [John Kerry].”
was expected to join his Polish counterpart, Donald Tusk, in signing
the joint statement, which calls on the Palestinians to negotiate with
Jerusalem without preconditions.
The premier's about-face prompted criticism from the opposition. "Netanyahu's disavowal of the content of the joint statement with the Polish prime minister only serves to expose the true face of the prime minister who continues to mislead the public and prove once again that he has no intention of making peace," Meretz chief Zehava Gal-On said.
Netanyahu headed to Poland on
Wednesday with a delegation of five ministers to hold a joint
governmental meeting. Though he was expected to sign the joint
declaration with Tusk, aides to the premier told Channel 10 that
no plans were ever made for a joint signature. On Thursday, he will
inaugurate a new permanent exhibition on the Holocaust, in Block 27 at
the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.
“Both governments agree on
the urgent need for progress towards a two-state solution to the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which has come through direct negotiations
between the parties without preconditions,” reads the statement.
office released a preliminary copy of the main points in advance of the
trip, but a source told Channel 10 that the bureau erred in releasing
the contents of the statement to the press.
The controversy over
the statement comes as the Palestinians continue to insist that Israel
must halt West Bank settlement activity and Jewish building in east
Jerusalem before talks can begin.
Israel has refused to heed that
request. But in support of a renewed US push to rekindle talks, it has
agreed to a de facto freeze, in which no new tenders have been issued
for building over the pre-1967 lines.
Palestinians have not backed down from their demand and continue to
threaten to seek unilateral statehood along the pre-1967 lines via the
In leaning toward Israel’s position, Poland is in the minority among the 193 UN states.
November, Poland was one of 41 UN member states that abstained from the
General Assembly vote to upgrade the Palestinian status to that of UN
As part of the original joint statement on
Middle East issues, Poland and Israel agreed that the latter’s
legitimacy, the security of its citizens, and the Palestinian right to a
state should never be in doubt.
According to the statement, both
governments support the vision of a just and lasting solution to the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with the State of Israel and the State of
Palestine, allowing for the self-determination of the Jewish and
Palestinian nations, living side by side in peace and security. The
statement also deals with other regional issues, such as Syria and Iran.
respect to Syria, the document says that both governments are concerned
by the growing number of fatalities and the ties that many extremist
terrorist organizations have to the conflict.
security situation in Syria is affecting the entire region, the
declaration says, adding that Poland and Israel are concerned by the
broad support the Syrian government has received from extremist players
and organizations, including Hezbollah.
Both governments were
expected to say they welcome the international community’s efforts to
end the Syrian civil war and restore peace and stability.
respect to Iran, the statement continues, both governments were to have
agreed that Tehran’s nuclear program presents the greatest potential
threat to the Middle East and the world. The document also posits that
diplomatic efforts to thwart the country’s nuclear drive must be coupled
with a credible military threat, according to the Prime Minister’s
Jerusalem and Warsaw also agree in the statement to fight
anti-Semitism and xenophobia, and add that Holocaust education is an
important part of this battle.
Additionally the joint statement will emphasize the friendly relations and historic partnership between the two countries.
two governments will discuss improved cooperation in the fields of
foreign relations, culture, heritage, education and youth exchange.
trip is Netanyahu’s second to Poland since he became prime minister in
2009. It is also the second such joint governmental meeting. Tusk and a
delegation of ministers visited Israel two years ago.
Netanyahu on his trip will be Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz,
Education Minister Shai Piron, Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat,
Science, Technology and Space Minister Yaakov Peri and Senior Citizens
Minister Uri Orbach.