Arab League head unfazed by Netanyahu’s ‘no to Palestine’ remark

Nabil Elaraby says PM was just ‘electioneering’ when he pledged there’ll be no Palestinian state on his watch

Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby on March 25, 2014 (AFP/Yasser al-Zayyat)
Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby on March 25, 2014 (AFP/Yasser al-Zayyat)

Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby dismissed Wednesday as electioneering Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s vow to rule out a Palestinian state if reelected, saying there would be global pressure for a peace deal.

Netanyahu, whose Likud party won 30 seats in the 120-member parliament in Tuesday’s vote, had pledged to expand settlements in the West Bank and block creation of a Palestinian state if reelected.

The president will now decide which party leader to tap to form the next government, and Netanyahu looks best placed to do so.

Netanyahu’s statements would “not be the policies of the future Israeli government,” said Elaraby, the secretary-general of the 22-nation bloc in an interview with AFP. “We will have to wait and see,” he added.

“I believe personally that he made that statement about… no two states to gain the votes of the extremists, particularly those Russian immigrants who went to Israel in the last 10, 15 years,” Elaraby said.

Netanyahu, when asked by an Israeli interviewer if he would not allow the creation of a Palestinian state, had responded: “Indeed.”

But Elaraby said he expected stalled peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, which broke down last year amid mutual recriminations, to resume after the next Israeli government is formed.

“I think there will be enough pressure on any Israeli government that the situation as it is cannot continue; Israel is going to be a pariah,” he said.

On Wednesday, Israeli deputy foreign minister Tzachi Hanegbi said that, if the Palestinian leadership “changed course,” Likud would be willing to negotiate.

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