"Trump is Israel's friend - which makes it harder to refuse him"

Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich 'very worried' Netanyahu will be unable to refuse 'bad components' of Trump's peace plan.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Bezalel Smotrich
Bezalel Smotrich
Marc Israel Sellem

Israeli Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich (Yamina) expressed concern Wednesday over the soon-to-be released Middle East peace plan, dubbed the ‘Deal of the Century’, which is expected to be presented to Israel and the Palestinian Authority shortly after next week’s Knesset election.

Speaking at the 2019 Jerusalem Post – Maariv Conference in Jerusalem Wednesday morning, Smotrich said that he viewed the Trump administration as Israel’s “friend” – but added that the warm relationship between Jerusalem and Washington could leave the prime minister feeling compelled to accept the White House’s peace plan, regardless of any ‘bad components’.

“Trump is a friend and this has many advantages, and the prime minister has known how to maximize achievements through him, but it also has dangers because it is much harder for friends to refuse,” Smotrich said.

Smotrich went on to say that Netanyahu needed a strong right-wing partner in his next government to make sure that he sets a “red line” in talks with the Trump administration regarding a final status agreement.

“We, the Yamina party, need to be strong alongside the Prime Minister; to be there when there is a need to delineate a red line and to help him tell Trump: ‘Mr. President, I cannot do it – I don’t have a coalition to establish a Palestinian state.’”

If Yamina manages to win a large number of seats, Smotrich argued, the party would be able to give Netanyahu the ‘backbone’ he needs to refuse portions of the US-backed Middle East peace plan that are unacceptable to Israel.

The White House, which had originally planned to reveal its Middle East peace plan earlier this year, delayed its release twice – first, after snap elections were called in Israel for April, and again after Netanyahu failed to build a new government, leading to repeat elections, set for next Tuesday.

While the US ultimately released the economic component of the plan during a workshop in Bahrain in June, the political portion of the plan is expected to be presented after Israel’s second general election of 2019.