Yisrael Beytenu chief Avigdor Liberman said Sunday that the principles set out by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in his 2009 Bar-Ilan University speech regarding a two-state solution would continue to guide the government if it is elected to another term.
Liberman told Israel Radio that Israel does not have “imperialistic ambitions” and the government is ready to take “important diplomatic steps” when there is a suitable partner on the other side. Liberman said the Bar-Ilan speech, in which Netanyahu agreed in principle to a demilitarized Palestinian state if the Palestinians recognized Israel as a Jewish state, would be a basis for any coalition agreement — a stance that could rule out the right-wing Jewish Home party, which supports annexing large parts of the West Bank.
According to polls, the joint Likud-Beytenu list has been bleeding votes to the religious, pro-settlement Jewish Home party in recent weeks.
Liberman’s uncharacteristically moderate statement appeared to put the hawkish former foreign minister to the left of some members of the Likud party, who last week caused an uproar when they stated that the party does not support a two-state solution
Last week, Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar, who is No. 3 on the Likud-Beytenu joint list, said “two states for two peoples was never part of [Likud’s] election platform.” MK Tzipi Hotovely, No. 15 on the list, said the Bar-Ilan speech was a tactical maneuver by Netanyahu only meant to placate the world.
Labor Party spokesman Eitan Cabel said Liberman’s statement was simply an attempt to put on a moderate mask, and Meretz head Zahava Gal-on called it “empty rhetoric.”