Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon said Tuesday that anyone who supports a peace agreement with the Palestinians has no place in the Likud party.
Danon’s remarks appeared to be directed at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s support of ongoing negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, though he later stated that he believes the prime minister does not actually intend to strike a deal with the Palestinians.
Danon, one of the more hawkish members of Netanyahu’s ruling party, said the Likud “won’t support an agreement that hands away our assets for nothing.” Whoever supports such an agreement, “choosing to go against the ideals of the Likud, won’t be in the Likud,” he told Army Radio.
He had made similar comments to party members in the West Bank over the weekend, speaking about a peace agreement and telling them “that if such a situation arose, the Likud movement must step forward and say that whoever advances such a plan has no place in the Likud.”
On Tuesday, the daily Israel Hayom cited unnamed confidants of Danon’s as saying that he wasn’t calling for the ousting of Netanyahu from the party, but rather stressing that Likud opposed the idea of an “interim” peace agreement.
Speaking to Army Radio, the deputy defense minister said he “trusted the prime minister” and reiterated that he had never heard Netanyahu express support for a temporary agreement. “I believe Netanyahu is aware of the dangers and saw the failure of Oslo and the [2005 Gaza] disengagement,” he stated.
Danon said he was worried that the right wasn’t represented in talks with the Palestinian Authority, which are being led on the Israeli side by Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, of the centrist Hatnua party.
“Anyone who thinks we’ll be the contractors doing the work of Israel’s left is wrong.”
In June, Danon slammed not only a temporary agreement but the idea of a two-state solution. “Look at the cabinet: There was never a cabinet discussion, resolution or vote about the two-state solution,” Danon told The Times of Israel, claiming that the cabinet would block any attempt to reach such an agreement.
“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’ll see the majority of Likud ministers, along with the Jewish Home [party], will be against it,” he stated.
Israeli and Palestinian negotiators met Tuesday in the latest round of talks to try and hammer out a peace deal.
An unnamed Palestinian official said Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Chief Palestinian Negotiator Saeb Erekat attended the meeting. The official told the Ma’an News Agency that both sides presented their views on final status issues but noted that no agreement had yet been reached.
It was the fifth meeting between the two sides since negotiations resumed in July.
The Prime Minister’s Office declined to comment on the report or confirm if the meeting indeed took place.
On Sunday Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas reportedly told Fatah officials that the Palestinians were maintaining their demand that East Jerusalem be the capital of a future Palestinian state, a condition he called a “red line.”
In their negotiations over the past month or so, Israel has presented its overall position on the core issues and the Palestinians are preparing a response, an Israel Radio report quoted Abbas as saying. The talks have reached a “review of positions,” he said, without elaboration.
Stuart Winer contributed to this report.