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Likud MKs to Netanyahu: No PA State!

PM Netanyahu’s fellow Likud members don’t want to hear him say “two states” in his highly-touted speech next week.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 6/11/2009, 4:03 PM

Israel news photo

Though Prime Minister Netanyahu’s fellow Likud members don’t want to hear him say “two states” in his much-anticipated speech next week, they did not dissuade him from saying “Roadmap” – possibly forgetting that Israel’s official current stance on the Roadmap is negative.

Netanyahu met with his party’s Knesset Members on Wednesday afternoon, giving them a chance to express their views as he prepares his official, public response to U.S. President Barack Obama’s famous speech of last week in Cairo. Netanyahu will speak on Sunday at Bar Ilan University in Ramat Gan.

MKs: No PA State!
He heard most, though not all, of them say, “Don’t give in.” MK Danny Danon said, “Please don’t lay the foundation stone for a Palestinian state in your Bar Ilan speech.” Tzipi Hotobeli took a similar stance, and former Netanyahu aide Ofir Akunis said, “I would prefer that the phrase ‘two states for two peoples’ not appear in your speech. We have to begin negotiations, but without promising what the results will be.”

Danon also said that Netanyahu should not insist only on "natural growth" for Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria, but on full-fledged “development.” 

Netanyahu in 2002: No PA State!
Some MKs reminded their leader of the Likud Central Committee session in May 2002, when Netanyahu took Ariel Sharon to task for supporting a Palestinian Authority state. Netanyahu said at the time that Israel would need to ensure that the Palestinian Authority never receive the powers to control borders, bring in weapons, control airspace, shoot down Israeli planes that enter its area, and sign peace treaties and military alliances – but “once you give them a state, you give them all these things, even if there is an agreement to the contrary - for within a short time, they will demand all these things, and they will assume these powers, and the world will stand by and do nothing – except to stop us from trying to stop them... We will thus have created with our own hands a threat to our very existence. On the day that we sign an agreement for a state with limited authorities, what will happen if the Palestinians do what the Germans did after World War I, when they nullified the demilitarized zone? The world did nothing then, and the world will do nothing now as well…”

Regev and Kara
MK Miri Regev said, “There’s no need to give in to Obama. Remember that in addition to Obama, there’s also the Congress and Senate.” She cited polls showing that Obama’s popularity at home is dropping, and that Americans are not all that pleased with his perceived opposition to Israel. She further urged Netanyahu to correct mistakes in Obama’s speech, such as the implication that Israel’s existence is justified only by the Holocaust.

Deputy Minister Ayoub Kara of Israel’s Druze sector, and a Likud “rebel” against then-Prime Minister Sharon’s Disengagement in 2005, added a domestic political consideration. He said that even if Netanyahu gives in to the left-wing and agrees to a Palestinian Authority state, this would not put him in their good graces, and that the left would attack him for giving in and not having formed a national unity government with Kadima.

Roadmap - But Only On Condition
It should be recalled that Israel's official stance on the U.S. Roadmap plan, which calls for a Palestinian Authority state at the end of a long process, is that it is acceptable - but only with 14 qualifications and conditions, some of which have not yet materialized.  In May 2003, the Sharon government, resolved, among other things, that "as a condition for progress to the second phase [of the Roadmap], the Palestinians will complete the dismantling of terrorist organizations (Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front, the Democratic Front, Al-Aqsa Brigades and others) and their infrastructure, collect all illegal weapons and transfer them to a third party, cease weapons smuggling and weapons production inside the Palestinian Authority, activate the full prevention apparatus, and cease incitement."

Netanyahu Hints, Doesn't Say
For his part, Netanyahu did not reveal what he plans to say; some observers say it’s because he doesn’t precisely know yet.  He said that the situation is “complex,” and that "there are strategic threats facing Israel that require us to balance out" what he said were the “many challenges coming from different directions.” 

"We must ensure that Israel remain a Jewish state for many generations to come," Netanyahu told his fellow party MKs.