Recent statements by Palestinian leaders who are refusing to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and to renounce the right of return make prospects for peace even more distant, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told members of his ruling Likud faction on Tuesday.
"They said this week that they will never recognize a Jewish state or give up the right of return," the premier said. "I won't bring a deal that doesn't cancel the right of return and doesn't involve the Palestinians recognizing a Jewish state. These are just fundamental conditions. The Palestinians aren't showing any sign of willingness to reach a practical and fair deal."
Netanyahu said he was satisfied with the stability of his coalition, which just completed a year in power since its formation.
"[Our opponents initially] said [the government] was too weak," Netanyahu said. "Now they say it's too strong. It's good for Israel to have a strong coalition and strong government."
Coalition whip Yariv Levin assailed the opposition for its decision to boycott the Knesset debate on three bills that promise to usher in "historic" change for Israel – the haredi conscription bill, the bill which would raise the minimum threshold for smaller parties to enter the Knesset, and a bill that would trigger a referendum in the event Israel reaches an agreement with the Palestinians.
"We are fulfilling our promises after a year on issues that for many years no one dared deal with," Levin said. "The opposition is being shameful. Important decisions have been made here without people thinking they have the right to go to a side room and form their own parliament."
The coalition and opposition remained at loggerheads over Knesset procedural issues Monday, but many on both sides seemed to agree on at least one thing: that they do not support the electoral reform bill going to a vote Tuesday morning.
In a conference room in the Knesset, opposition MKs held an alternative plenum meeting, conducted by Deputy Knesset Speaker Ahmed Tibi (UAL-Ta’al), in which they bashed the electoral reform bill. They also slammed the coalition for imposing a three-day debate to pass laws on electoral reform on Tuesday, haredi conscription on Wednesday and a referendum on land concession on Thursday, instead of a nine-day debate as the opposition demanded.
Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.