Smotrich: Yamina to help Bibi refuse Trump’s demands for Palestinian state

Transport Minister says Yamina party will be ‘Netanyahu’s spine’ in standing up to US President.

September 12, 2019 09:35
1 minute read.
Transport Minister and senior Yamina party leader MK Bezalel Smotrich speaks at the The Jerusalem Po

Transport Minister and senior Yamina party leader MK Bezalel Smotrich speaks at the The Jerusalem Post-Ma'ariv Elections Conference, September 11 2019. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

Transportation Minister and senior Yamina Party leader MK Bezalel Smotrich said on Wednesday that his party would serve as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s “spine” to help him refuse any possible demand by US President Donald Trump to establish a Palestinian state.

Speaking at a conference sponsored by the Jerusalem Post and Maariv newspapers, Smotrich also said he is worried about changes in the Trump administration, especially the firing of national security adviser John Bolton and the resignation of Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt.

Smotrich said that he is “very worried” about events in the current US administration, and equally worried that Trump’s peace plan would include “very bad components” detrimental “to the vital interests of Israel.”

He described Bolton as “a central axis in the security and diplomatic cooperation between the US and Israel on Iran,” adding that his “sudden firing” was “apparently due to the difference of opinion between him and the president on the Iranian issue, and the readiness of Trump to meet with Iranian [President Hassan] Rouhani immediately and without preconditions.”

The minister said, however, that his great concern is that Netanyahu would not be able to refuse Trump’s demands, given the largesse the US president has bestowed on Israel of late.

“Trump is a friend and this has many advantages – and the prime minister has known how to maximize achievements through him – but it also has dangers because it is much harder for friends to refuse,” said Smotrich.

“Therefore, we the Yamina Party need to be strong alongside the prime minister, to be there when there is a need to delineate a redline and to help him tell Trump: ‘Mr. President, I can’t do it, I don’t have a coalition to establish a Pal[estinian] state,” he said.

“Our goal is to give Netanyahu to the State of Israel as [prime minister], with his great abilities, but with a backbone and the ability to stand up to the great challenges we will face after the elections.”

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