In televised comments just a few weeks ago, MK Ayelet Shaked said Jewish Israelis should be allowed to stay in a future state of Palestine, and expressed incredulity that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas would not allow this. This week, by contrast, she and her Jewish Home party have castigated Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for reportedly demanding the same thing.
If there is to be a peace agreement, Shaked told the i24 television news network in an English-language December 29 interview, “I don’t see a reason why the settlements [sic] cannot stay and live in a Palestinian state if they want.”
“I don’t think the two-state solution will happen,” Shaked added, but she went on to ask, “Why does Abu Mazen [Abbas] want a Palestinian state cleared of Jews? I just don’t get it… There are Arab villages [in Israel] and I think they should have the same rights as myself. I think Jews can live in the Palestinian state.”
Shaked’s boss, party leader Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, was in a high-profile spat this week with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over this very issue. The Jewish Home chairman reacted publicly to comments by an official to The Times of Israel saying the prime minister was insisting that Jewish West Bank settlers be given the option to remain in their homes under Palestinian rule, following the signing of a peace deal.
Bennett dismissed the idea out of hand, and said that history “won’t forgive” an Israeli leader who relinquished parts of the Land of Israel under a peace deal. The row lead to a short-lived coalition crisis. Bennett on Wednesday later partially apologized for his remarks, but did not change his position.
On Thursday, confronted with the apparent inconsistency of her position, Shaked criticized the statements coming from the Prime Minister’s Office this week as representing “a real offer from someone who agrees to a Palestinian state” — something she opposes — whereas her remarks to i24 were about an “imaginary scenario as an example” to expose “the racism of Abu Mazen, and nothing else.”
“I am very much against the dangerous idea of two states, and I don’t think it will happen,” she added.
Housing Minister Uri Ariel, Jewish Home’s number-two, defended Shaked, saying her December comments were true “in principle,” but that “in reality” Jews would not be able to live under Palestinian rule. “In principle, those who speak of peace but do not let us live in our homes are racist and anti-Semitic. In reality, no one believes that Hamas will allow [the safe presence of Jews in a future Palestine] to happen.”
Times of Israel Staff contributed to this report.