Likud ministers ready to resist PA state

Concern spurred by Post report on AIPAC lobbying for Palestinian state with PMO's blessing.

bennie begin 248 88 aj (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimksi )
bennie begin 248 88 aj
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimksi )
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu would not be able to advance the formation of a Palestinian state, due to the wide majority against it in the Likud faction, MKs who oppose a two-state solution said Sunday. They said that unlike the fight against the disengagement from the Gaza Strip, when only 15 MKs out of 40 dared challenge then-prime minister Ariel Sharon, this time around, two-thirds of the Likud faction would defy a potential effort by Netanyahu to withdraw from parts of Judea and Samaria. The rebellion against Sharon also suffered from a lack of leadership, because the only Likud minister who actively opposed him was then-minister-without-portfolio Uzi Landau. This time around, no fewer than seven Likud ministers vocally oppose a Palestinian state: Gideon Sa'ar, Bennie Begin, Moshe Ya'alon, Yuli Edelstein, Gilad Erdan, Yisrael Katz and Moshe Kahlon. "MKs might be afraid now to say that Bibi doesn't have a majority for two states in the faction or other Likud bodies, but later on they will make their voice heard," said Likud MK Danny Danon, who wrote Netanyahu on Friday warning him against concessions to US President Barack Obama in their Monday meeting. "In any public campaign against a Palestinian state, Begin and Ya'alon would be at the top," he added. Ya'alon and Begin declined to take upon themselves the leadership of such an effort at this juncture. "There is no reason to hurry," Begin said. "We are waiting until the meeting with the president of the United States in which I am sure the prime minister will present the views of the government and the Likud." Due in part to the efforts of Likud activist Moshe Feiglin, Likud members elected a slate of MKs that was more right-leaning than Netanyahu had wanted. The only MKs in Likud considered relative doves are ministers Silvan Shalom, Dan Meridor, Michael Eitan and Yossi Peled, and MKs Haim Katz and Carmel Shama. "It is clear that many in Likud were elected due to certain ideas, and the Likud was chosen to lead the country," a Likud minister said. "It could be that the entire government will have to stand up to countries that are asking Israel to do things that it cannot do in order to achieve a certain kind of peace." Likud MKs said they were concerned about reports from Netanyahu's flight to Washington that he would not rule out the formation of a Palestinian state in his meeting with Obama. They said they had been worried since they read an article in The Jerusalem Post on May 4 about AIPAC delegates lobbying Congress for a two-state solution with the blessing of the Prime Minister's Office. "We must also continue to insist on the absolute Palestinian commitment to ending terrorist violence and to building the institutions necessary for a viable Palestinian state living side-by-side, in peace with the Jewish state of Israel," read a letter that AIPAC delegates lobbied their congressmen to sign. The lobbying took place after a meeting between AIPAC heads and Netanyahu in Jerusalem. When asked about the letter, Netanyahu's adviser Ron Dermer said he did not think there was a difference between the positions of Netanyahu and AIPAC. "This article was the first sign," Danon said. "When Sharon endorsed a Palestinian state in a speech at Latrun [in 2003] we were taken by surprise. This time, we have to be ready. The first step is telling Netanyahu that if he will be too flexible, he will have problems at home." Meretz leader Haim Oron said he would not be surprised or disappointed if Netanyahu caved in to Obama on the Palestinian state issue. "Accepting two states for two peoples is not a concession to the Palestinians but the supreme interest of Israel," Oron said. "We cannot expect a man who has zigzagged throughout his entire political career to suddenly act differently now. The test of the Bibi-Obama meeting is not whether Netanyahu will leave it in peace, but whether it will create a basis to advance to peace."