(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Zionist Union MK Erel Margalit asked Attorney- General Avichai Mandelblit on Sunday to ban Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from traveling to the US due to the ongoing criminal investigations into alleged wrongdoing by him and his lawyer, David Shimron.
“Netanyahu must excuse himself from the trip to the US and allow President Reuven Rivlin to represent Israel instead,” Margalit said. “There is serious concern that he could obstruct the investigation because people from abroad are involved.”
Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog, meanwhile, called upon Netanyahu to continue to back a two-state solution in his meeting with President Donald Trump, warning that having one state for Israel and the Palestinians would result in Israel losing its identity as the nation-state of the Jewish people.
“Netanyahu needs to decide if he is flying to the US as the prime minister of Israel or the foreign minister of [Bayit Yehudi chairman] Naftali Bennett,” Herzog said.
On the Right, however, ministers, MKs and activists intensified pressure on Netanyahu ahead of Wednesday’s meeting with Trump, urging him to push the US president to allow construction throughout Judea and Samaria; permit annexation of settlement blocs; and oppose the creation of a Palestinian state.
Hawks in the Likud central committee will hold an event at the Knesset on Monday in which they intend to remind Netanyahu of his own past opposition to a Palestinian state.
The Knesset’s Land of Israel Caucus sent Netanyahu a letter Sunday calling on him to “maintain Israel’s right to build and expand throughout Judea and Samaria and prevent the creation of a Palestinian terrorist state in the heart of the Land of Israel.”
Transportation Minister Israel Katz (Likud) scolded Bennett on Sunday for pressuring Netanyahu ahead of his meeting with Trump. Bennett posted a demand on Facebook Saturday night that Netanyahu tell Trump he no longer supports the creation of a Palestinian state. He also called for action against the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
“Security cabinet members should not be provocative in order to achieve a political gain,” Katz told Army Radio.
“The phenomenon of a security cabinet minister who heads a small party heating up the border with Gaza because of political considerations and dragging Israel to war is very grave. Bennett is trying to get more supporters at the expense of our national interest and it must stop.”
He went on to say that Israel “is clearly an independent state,” but that “it must coordinate understandings with its friends in the US.”
Bayit Yehudi responded to Katz’s accusations by saying that it was Katz, not Bennett, who was engaging in petty politics.
“Katz has been running a campaign to replace Netanyahu, including forming a team of advisers who are helping him plan details to help him replace him [the prime minister]. And now, as part of that, he is attacking other ministers,” a Bayit Yehudi spokeswoman said.
“He should return to dealing with the traffic jam on the Jerusalem- Tel Aviv highway and traffic accidents instead of trying to drag Bayit Yehudi into his personal battles with Netanyahu,” she added.