Israeli flag flutters over settlement of Ofra 311 R.
(photo credit: Laszlo Balogh / Reuters)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will face a tough challenge from inside his Likud party if he gives up communities in Judea and Samaria that are outside the settlement blocs, politicians in the party vowed on Monday night following his speech in the Knesset.
RELATED:'Netanyahu's words prove Israel isn't interested in peace'Diplomacy: Big speech or big sleep?
Although minutes after the speech commentators labeled the address as “right-wing,” MKs from both the Right and the Left reached a rare consensus – that the premier’s speech signaled a turn leftward.
At the beginning of Netanyahu’s speech, Arab lawmakers stood and left the room in protest, and the prime minister was actively heckled by Kadima MKs. But by the end, after Netanyahu referred to the importance of keeping settlement blocs, without emphasizing Israel’s claims over the more isolated West Bank communities, the tables had turned, and Netanyahu was heckled by the Right.
National Union chairman Ya’acov Katz left the plenum in protest, and
even MK Tzipi Hotovely, a member of Netanyahu’s own faction began to
shout at him.
“The Likud doesn’t know the word ‘blocs,’ and we will work to remove the
word from the prime minister’s lexicon,” vowed hawkish Likud MK Danny
Danon, who hosted an event earlier on Monday that was intended to
pressure Netanyahu not to make any concessions during his trip to
Washington that begins on Thursday.
Netanyahu’s Likud rival, Vice Premier Silvan Shalom, warned him in a
Likud faction meeting that he would fall from power if he strayed too
far from the party’s ideals.
JPOST VIDEOS THAT MIGHT INTEREST YOU:
“You have to maintain the path we were elected on, because if we don’t,
we won’t be able to keep the coalition together,” Shalom told Netanyahu.
“We want to keep the government for another year-and-ahalf and not go
to elections. You should tell the Americans about everything we did for
the Palestinians and then say it was all mistaken, because the
Palestinians didn’t move by a millimeter.”
In a moment of agreement, National Union MKs and Kadima MKs alike said
that Netanyahu’s speech had signaled that the prime minister had adopted
the lead opposition party’s platform.
“It is good that finally the truth has emerged,” Katz said. “For the
first time, Netanyahu stood up and declared his willingness to expel
130,000 Jews who live in the Gav Hahar [Mountain Range] region and in
practice adopted Kadima’s platform, including the mass expulsion that
was only paralleled by the expulsion from Spain and by the greatest
haters of the Jewish people in Europe.”
Katz called on Likud lawmakers and ministers alike “to join the National
Union in order to remain faithful to the platform upon which they were
elected – to keep the Land of Israel in Jewish hands.”
On the other side of the political spectrum, MK Orit Zuaretz (Kadima)
agreed that “in his speech, the prime minister has essentially adopted
Kadima’s platform. Now all he has to do is reach an agreement with his
coalition partners and with the Likud central committee.”
There, however, the agreement between Katz and Zuaretz ended.
“I welcome the general policy lines presented by the prime minister that
reflect the principle of two states for two peoples, and maintain the
large settlement blocs while giving up on the isolated outposts,”
At the Likud faction meeting organized by Danon, Hotovely urged the
prime minister to acknowledge the death of the Oslo diplomatic process
and bury the vision of two states for two peoples. Danon said more than
half of the Likud MKs and of the public supported annexing at least part
of the West Bank if the Palestinians unilaterally declare a state at
the UN General Assembly in September.
Danon presented a Geocartographical Institute poll he sponsored in the
first week of May of 500 respondents representing a statistical sample
of the adult Israeli population, including Arabs. When asked whether
they would support annexing “settlement areas in Judea and Samaria in
response to the unilateral formation of a Palestinian state,” 54.5
percent said yes, 30.4% said no, and 15% had no opinion.
“We came today to tell Netanyahu that we support him but we expect him
to be strong and loyal to the principles of the Likud, despite the
pressure he is facing,” Danon said. “Netanyahu needs to ask Obama whom
he wants us to make a deal with? With Hamas that support Osama bin
Laden? He needs to tell him, ‘if you want us to create an al- Qaida
state, we say no thank you.’”
Dovish Minister-without-Portfolio Michael Eitan (Likud) rejected the
annexation idea, warning that it would further isolate Israel, act as a
boomerang, and harm the chances of keeping and continuing to build in
the settlement blocs.
“The success of the prime minister’s visit to Washington will be judged
not only by the strength of the applause at his speeches but on his
ability to obtain support from the American government against the
dangerous decision in the UN General Assembly pending in September,”
Eitan told the Likud faction. “Coordination with the US will require
diplomatic initiatives that will enable the US and Israel to persuade
other countries not to back the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian
Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>