Israel’s Deputy Defense Minister said on Wednesday that the current Israeli government does not support a two-state solution to the Israeli- Palestinian conflict, contradicting the stated position of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the policy of the United States government, and the overwhelming consensus of the international community.
Secretary of State John Kerry has been pushing both sides in recent weeks to come to the negotiating table, promoting the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative — a comprehensive peace deal calling for two states and the Israelis to withdraw from the territories seized in the 1967 war, with agreed upon land swaps, in exchange for a normalization of relations — as the basis for talks. Kerry warned this week that time for a two-state deal is nearing its end. “We’re running out of time, we’re running out of possibilities. Let’s be clear, if we do not succeed now — and I know I’m raising the stakes — we may not get another chance,” he said.
While Netanyahu suggested this week that he is willing to consider the Arab-backed plan, Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon told the Times of Israel that a two-state solution is a non-starter among many in Netanyahu’s governing coalition:
“Look at the government: there was never a government discussion, resolution or vote about the two-state solution,” Danon said. “If you will bring it to a vote in the government — nobody will bring it to a vote, it’s not smart to do it — but if you bring it to a vote, you will see the majority of Likud ministers, along with the Jewish Home [party], will be against it.” […]
Today we’re not fighting it [Netanyahu’s declared goal of a Palestinian state], but if there will be a move to promote a two-state solution, you will see forces blocking it within the party and the government,” Danon said.
Indeed, other members of Netanyahu’s governing coalition have recently questioned whether the two-state solution is official government policy. Member of the Knesset Reuven Rivlin (Likud) said there are “substantial divides inside the government” on the issue and MK Orit Struck (Jewish Home) said that “two states for two peoples is not the government’s official position.”
Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who is also serving as the top Israeli official on peace talks with the Palestinians, acknowledged to the TImes of Israel that some in governing coalition don’t want her to succeed but added, “I know that I have the support of the prime minister in the attempts to relaunch the negotiations.”
Kerry will reportedly travel to Israel next week in what will be his fifth trip to the region since becoming the nation’s top diplomat. “I will make a judgment at some point whether I need to go and push a little bit, or help that process, and I am certainly willing to. I am open to that possibility but we are not raising any expectations about an American plan,” Kerry said on Monday.