Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu tried to reassure his Likud faction on Monday
that he would not sacrifice Israel’s security in a diplomatic initiative that he
intends to present to the world in the near future.
Netanyahu faced a
challenge at the faction meeting from MKs Danny Danon, Yariv Levin, and Tzipi
Hotovely, who were upset about reports that he was considering unilateral
concessions to the Palestinian Authority.
Pressure mounting on PM ahead of diplomatic initiative
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“I am not finished drafting my
plan, I am still evaluating the impact of the changes in the region,” Netanyahu
reportedly said in the closed-door meeting.
“Don’t take too seriously
what you see in the press. I am sometimes just as surprised as you are by what
the press reports. Any deal we make will depend on guarantees of security and
Danon criticized Netanyahu for seeking to please US President
Barack Obama, saying that “we are obligated first to the people who sent us to
power and only then to the people who send us money.”
Netanyahu’s Likud rival, Vice Premier Silvan Shalom, attacked him in an Israel
He said he expected the prime minister to present his
plan to his party before he presents it to the world and that it was incorrect
to take steps under pressure.
“We went to the public with an agenda, and
we can’t turn it around 180 degrees,” Shalom said. “If we go in a direction that
is completely different than the mandate we received from the public, people
will prefer the original Tzipi Livni and not the copy that the Likud would
Netanyahu also faced pressure from the Left to unveil his plan
as soon as possible. Both Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Deputy Prime Minister
Dan Meridor expressed optimism that he could pass his diplomatic initiative in
Barak, who has become the closest minister to Netanyahu, told
Israel Radio that this was the time for the prime minister to display leadership
and take risks to prevent Israel’s isolation.
Meridor told Army Radio,
“If we don’t begin a diplomatic initiative, the entire world will recognize a
Palestinian state in the pre-1967 borders.
“We need to hurry to define
our goals. If we leave things unclear, there is a danger that we can reach a
situation like we saw at the UNSC that everything has the same fate: The Jewish
Quarter [of the Old City] and [isolated settlements] Elon Moreh and [Har]
Former ambassador to Washington Zalman Shoval endorsed the idea
of Netanyahu unveiling the initiative in a speech to a joint session of
He said he hoped the prime minister’s coalition would not
prevent him from making the best of a complicated situation.
Congress on both sides of the aisle is an important player in US-Israel
relations,” Shoval said.
“Israel needs a strong physical, strategic and
political presence of the US in the Middle East and, therefore, understands that
it also may have to undertake certain initiatives with regards to the
Palestinians in order to facilitate the above aim and to prevent steps and
initiatives from other sources, while the US, in the wake of the upheavals in
the region, is hopefully waking up to the reality that Israel is indeed its only
reliable strategic partner in the region, but also, that in order to make
progress on the peace front, Israel’s justified security and other concerns in
the shifting sands of the Middle East must be taken into account.”