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(photo credit: AP)
MKs from every party in the coalition except for Labor sent a message to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at the Knesset on Wednesday, warning him not to cave into US President Barack Obama's calls for the creation of a Palestinian state when the two meet in the White House on Monday.
Likud MK Danny Danon convened MKs, professors and other public figures who oppose a Palestinian state to counteract the pressure on Netanyahu from world leaders and the Left to endorse the mantra of "two states for two peoples." The group will convene on May 26 with Vice Premier Moshe Ya'alon to consider alternative diplomatic plans for the Right.
"The press has been spreading the message that the good of the nation requires two states for two peoples, and people have been accepting it, even inside the Likud," Danon said. "There were elections, which gave a mandate to the nationalist camp and not to a Palestinian state. When the prime minister leaves to Washington and the pressure rises on him to accept two states, we must offer an alternative solution."
The MKs who attended the event made a point of saying it was intended to "strengthen" Netanyahu and not protest against him. The participants included his former aide Ophir Akunis and his sister-in-law, Daphne Netanyahu.
"It wasn't a political statement that I came," Daphne Netanyahu said. "I am not a Likud member and I didn't come as Netanyahu's sister-in-law, but only as a listener. I am against a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria, but my ideas are no more important than anyone else's."
Shas MK Haim Amsalem said at the event that his party's mentor, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, opposed a Palestinian state and that Shas would not support a deal of "land for dreams." The Likud MKs pointed out that the party's central committee decided to oppose the formation of a Palestinian state in 2002 with Netanyahu's support. They said that most of the party's activists and voters still oppose a Palestinian state and polls suggest a majority of the general public does as well.
Former defense minister Moshe Arens said he would advise Netanyahu to focus his meeting with Obama on defeating terror and not on creating what he said would be a third Palestinian state after those that already exist in Jordan and the Gaza Strip. But Arens cautioned against undermining Netanyahu even if he shifted Leftward.
"We have to support this government," Arens said. "If it falls, whatever government would follow it would be much worse. We can't shoot ourselves in the foot."
But Likud activist Moshe Feiglin criticized Netanyahu for referring to Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas as "President Abbas" in his speech to AIPAC's national conference in Washington via satellite last week. He said Netanyahu made a mistake in going to Washington at a time of "a pro-Muslim, pro-Arab government led by a man named Hussein."