Former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon ruled out supporting a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, moments after his new political partner Benny Gantz said Tuesday he would push for peace if elected prime minister.
Asked by The Times of Israel Tuesday evening if he would support a peace deal based on the premise of two states for two peoples, Ya’alon replied “of course not.”
Ya’alon, a former member of the right-wing Likud party, has long held hawkish views toward the Palestinians and, as Israel Defense Forces chief of staff, he opposed the 2005 Israeli disengagement from the Gaza Strip.
In 2014, he was quoted as criticizing US secretary of state John Kerry as “obsessive” and “messianic” for his efforts to broker a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. He later apologized.
Ya’alon earlier this month formed the Telem Party, which on Tuesday officially teamed up with Gantz’s Israel Resilience to run on a joint electoral slate in Knesset elections on April 9.
The two made the announcement during a rally for Israel Resilience in Tel Aviv, where Gantz officially kicked off his election campaign with his first political speech.
Though he did not endorse a two-state solution, Gantz stressed in his speech that he would try to reach an agreement with the Palestinians.
“I know that we need something different, we can have something different. A government I lead will seek peace and won’t miss an opportunity for a regional change,” he said, before praising past Israeli leaders who reached peace agreements with Arab states and the Palestinians.
But if such an opportunity does not appear, Gantz said, “we will create a new reality.”
“We will fortify Israel’s position as a democratic state, strengthen the settlement blocs and Golan [Heights], where we won’t leave ever. The Jordan Valley will be our border, but we won’t let millions of Palestinians living beyond the fence endanger our identity as a Jewish state,” he said, seemingly ruling out a one-state formula.
Gantz has also emphasized the importance he places on peace in past remarks, including reportedly telling a group of Mexican Jews last year that reaching an agreement with the Palestinians should be Israel’s top priority.