Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu must give up his support for a Palestinian state in his meeting with US President Donald Trump on Wednesday, Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett and Likud activists urged him on Saturday.
Netanyahu endorsed a Palestinian state in his June 14, 2009, address at Bar-Ilan University following a meeting with then-president Barack Obama, who pressured him to take that step despite his party’s opposition.
Now, with Trump as president, leaders of the Right expressed hope that Netanyahu will reverse that endorsement.
In a Facebook post titled “The test of Netanyahu’s life,” Bennett promised Netanyahu the Right’s support if he tells Trump he no longer supports a twostate solution, and a national nightmare if he continues backing a Palestinian state.
“If in their statements after the meeting they mention, for the first time in Trump’s term, their obligation to forming Palestine or two states in one way or another, we will all feel it in our flesh for years to come,” Bennett warned. “The earth will shake. International pressure, boycotts, reports against Israel, missiles, freezes, tying the hands of our soldiers in the fight against terrorism – all this will continue and intensify.”
Bennett called Trump’s election an historic opportunity for Israel that cannot be missed.
He urged Netanyahu to take advantage of it by telling the Trump administration, “We tried Palestine time and time again, and we got 1,000 dead on the streets of Israel, Hamistan in Gaza and a deterioration in our international image.”
Sources close to Netanyahu responded by calling the statement and others like it from the Right unhelpful ahead of the meeting with Trump, saying it could even harm the meeting.
The prime minister is also facing pressure from inside the Likud, whose hawks are to conduct a rally at the Knesset on Monday during which Netanyahu is to be urged to annex Judea and Samaria. Ahead of the meeting, more than 300 Likud central committee members signed a petition calling on him to maintain the values of the Likud and quoting from his book A Place Under the Sun, in which he praises Judea and Samaria.
Settlers fear Netanyahu will endorse a two-state solution in his meeting with Trump and argue for a plan that promotes the settlements blocs while freezing the more isolated communities.
In preparation for the trip, Netanyahu has held security consultations with the IDF chief of staff, as well as with the heads of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), the Mossad and Israel’s Atomic Energy Commission.
Israel’s Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer was in Israel last week to help prepare for the trip. The Foreign Ministry also presented Netanyahu with a number of position papers.
Among the topics the two leaders plan to discuss are Iran, Syria and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israeli officials said Netanyahu plans to tell Trump that Israel will not agree to any kind of an Iranian presence in Syria.
Netanyahu also plans to discuss his talk with Trump at Sunday’s weekly cabinet meeting.
In advance of the Netanyahu- Trump meeting, the US president gave an interview to Israel Hayom, in which he said advancing settlement activity is not helpful to peace.
In the brief excerpt of the interview, which Israel Hayom published on Friday, Trump walked a fine line between refusing to condemn Israel while putting forward his belief about what is helpful and not helpful to the peace process. The new president also hinted at the possibility of a regional peace deal.
“Israel has had a long history of condemnation and difficulty. And I don’t want to be condemning Israel.
I understand Israel very well, and I respect Israel a lot, and they have been through a lot. I would like to see peace and beyond that. And I think that peace for Israel would be a good thing for the Israeli people, not just a good thing, a great thing,” Trump said.
“I want to see peace happen. It should happen. After all these years...
Maybe there is even a chance for a bigger peace than just Israel and the Palestinians. I would like to see a level of reasonableness of both parties, and I think we have a good chance of doing that,” he added.
Referencing the West Bank, he noted that there is a limited amount of land and expanding the settlements eats away at the remaining territory.
““They [settlements] don’t help the process. I can say that. There is [only] so much land left. And every time you take land for settlements, there is less land left. But we are looking at that, and we are looking at some other options. We’ll see,” Trump said.
“I am not somebody who believes that going forward with these settlements is a good thing for peace,” he continued.
Trump underscored his desire to make a deal to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“So many people think it cannot be made. I have very smart people that...
say a deal can’t be made. I disagree with them. I think a deal should be made, and it can be made,” he said.
The president added that he has always liked Netanyahu and believes he acts in Israel’s best interests and wants peace “We’ve always had good chemistry, and he is a good man. He wants to do the right thing for Israel. He would like peace; I believe that he wants peace and wants to have it badly. I have always liked him,” Trump said.
Regarding the possible relocation of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, he said that he is still studying the matter. “It’s not an easy decision,” he said.
In speaking about the agreement Iran reached with the six world powers during the Obama administration, Trump said the deal is a “disaster for Israel.”