Amid uproar, Netanyahu reportedly reaffirms commitment to two-state solution

PM’s statement comes after Likud MK says his 2009 Bar-Ilan speech in support of Palestinian state was just a ‘tactical’ move

Ilan Ben Zion, a reporter at the Associated Press, is a former news editor at The Times of Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (photo credit: Alex Kolomoisky/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (photo credit: Alex Kolomoisky/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday he stands behind his 2009 statement of support for the two-state solution, rebuffing party colleagues’ recent rejection of a Palestinian state, Channel 2 reported.

Netanyahu first expressed support for a Palestinian state in June 2009 in a policy speech at Bar-Ilan University. However, politicians and pundits have since questioned whether he is actually committed to that outcome, and one Likud MK on Monday said the prime minister didn’t mean what he said.

Channel 2 reported that Netanyahu reaffirmed his support for a two-state solution Monday, but that he added the caveat that recognition of a Palestinian state hinged on the Palestinians’ recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, resolution of the conflict, and resolution of Israel’s security concerns. The TV report did not feature direct quotations from the prime minister, and there was no other confirmation from other sources.

The conditions he set out in his Bar-Ilan speech were that “if we get a guarantee of demilitarization, and if the Palestinians recognize Israel as the Jewish state, we are ready to agree to a real peace agreement.”

Last week, Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar, of the Likud party, told Ynet that “two states for two peoples was never part of [Likud’s] election platform.” On Monday, hard-line Likud MK Tzipi Hotovely said the Bar-Ilan speech was a tactical maneuver only meant to placate the world.

“We are opposed to a Palestinian state,” she said.

Referring to Netanyahu’s statement at Bar-Ilan that “we do not want to rule over [the Palestinians]” and that he envisioned “two free peoples living side by side in this small land,” Hotovely said Netanyahu delivered “a tactical speech” for the rest of the world, to try and secure Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.

The Likud party, she also said, will do everything possible to protect every West Bank settlement.

Last week Hatnua party leader Tzipi Livni criticized Netanyahu’s “lip service” to the international community in support of a two-state solution in the Bar-Ilan speech.

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