Naftali Bennett greets Bayit Yehudi supporters after the election results were announced.
(photo credit: SAM SOKOL)
Naftali Bennett, the head of the religious-Zionist Bayit Yehudi Party, will condition his entry into Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition on an explicit commitment from the premier that his government will rule out the creation of a Palestinian state, Channel 2 is reporting on Friday.
As the political parties prepare for coalition talks this coming week, the religious-Zionist leader will reportedly seek specific language in government guidelines effectively precluding the establishment of a Palestinian state prior to his party's entry into the coalition.
Following his re-election this week, Netanyahu reaffirmed his support for a two-state solution, though he added that circumstances in the region did not permit the establishment of a Palestinian state at this juncture.
The premier's campaign disavowal of his support for a Palestinian state has prompted the Obama administration to "reassess" its options regarding the Middle East peace process, with some observers believing that the US could end its policy of automatic support for Israel at the UN Security Council.
“I never retracted my speech in Bar-Ilan University six years ago calling for a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognized the Jewish state,” Netanyahu said in an interview with MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell. “I want a sustainable peaceful two-state solution,” he said. “But for that, circumstances have to change.”
Two days earlier, Netanyahu told the Israeli media that a Palestinian state would not be created during his premiership and warned against Arab voters heading to the polls in droves. But on Thursday, with his job safely back in his hands, Netanyahu took to the US airwaves to assuage White House concerns he has reneged on the peace process.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest said that, despite Netanyahu’s American media interviews, the US will “still evaluate” its policy on the Middle East peace process.
International observers will likely train a keen eye on the behavior of Netanyah's next government. Bennett's demand for explicit language opposing a Palestinian state could very well exacerbate already-fraught relations between Jerusalem and Western governments.