Fact: Netanyahu's Political Party Explicitly Opposes the Two-State Solution
After making remarks prior to the Israeli election that there would not be a Palestinian state under his watch, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has since sought to walk back his comments, claiming that he actually does support the so-called “two-state solution.”
This has set off a debate in the rest of the world about just who the real Netanyahu is – is what he's saying now the truth, or what he said before the election? As the Huffington Post notes, Netanyahu has on many occasions denied any possibility of the existence of a Palestinian state.
But it's important to look beyond just Netanyahu's own rhetoric, however contradictory it sometimes seems. He is after all part of a parliamentary system where policy is largely decided by parties not individuals. His party's official platform is opposition to Palestinian statehood, and even beyond that, the top candidates he recruited to run for the Likud slate in this election have a history of opposing the two-state solution.
Here's some history of just some of these candidates on this year's Likud list. All of the ones listed below will be active members of the Israeli Knesset this year:
1. Gilad Erdan: Erdan was #2 on Likud's list of submitted candidates, behind only Netanyahu himself. Last September, Erdan clearly departed from the 2 state framework, saying, “To continue talking about Palestinian statehood with the same determination and the same confidence as 15, 20 years ago is irresponsible.” He offered some support for the plan put forth by the Egyptian government which would relocate Palestinians into the Sinai.
2. Yuli Edelstein: Edelstein was #3 on Likud's list. He told The Jerusalem Post in December: “I don't think it's a great idea to create a Palestinian state.”
3. Yisrael Katz: Katz, #4 on the list, wanted to kick out an Arab lawmaker from the Knesset, calling her a “traitor.” Not only is Katz against a Palestinian state, he has called for total cutoffs of electricity, food, and water to Gaza.
4. Miri Regev: Regev, #5 on the Likud list, is so committed to annexation that she has submitted legislation to require the Israeli government to annex the Jordan Valley.
5. Moshe Ya'alon: Ya'alon, #7 on the list and Israel's current Defense Minister, dismissed a Palestinian state in an interview given last year: “Rather than look for a solution, I am seeking a way to manage the conflict and our relations in a way to strengthen our mutual interests. It is time to free ourselves of the concept that everything leads to a framework that is called a state. From my standpoint, they can call it the Palestinian empire. I don’t care. It would basically be autonomy.” Despite Netanyahu's damage control, Ya'alon repeated essentially the same remarks to the BBC in a post-election interview.
6. Ze'ev Elkin: Elkin, #8 on the list, said it is wrong to back a Palestinian state and that the Palestinians “haven't budged a millimeter in 20 years.”
7. Danny Danon: Danon, #9, said “enough with the “two-state solution. Land for peace is over.”
8. Yariv Levin: Levin, #10, said “the two state solution is no solution.”
9. Yuval Steinitz: #13 on Likud's list, said in September that the two-state solution would be “collective suicide.”
10. Gila Gamliel: Gamliel isn't a fan of two states. She previously called on the Palestinians to simply become part of Jordan and Egypt. She objects to even calling Israeli control of the territories an occupation.
These are not minor figures or backbenchers. They are senior members of Netanyahu's political party, and many of them will have senior roles in the new Israeli government. They were recruited by Netanyahu and Likud themselves, and their opposition to a Palestinian state isn't a bug, but a feature, of the party's ideology.