Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told cabinet ministers Sunday that he was prepared to give the Palestinians a “state minus.”
“What I’m willing to give the Palestinians,” the prime minister said in the weekly meeting, according to Hebrew reports, “is not exactly a state with full authority, rather a state minus. This is why the Palestinians do not agree.”
Netanyahu did not elaborate further. In the past, the prime minister has said that he would be in favor of a demilitarized Palestinian state if the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
Netanyahu was responding to Science Minister Ofir Akunis (Likud), who told the ministers that he opposes the prime minister’s position and rejects a two-state solution. The minister insisted that this is also the official stance of the Likud party, according to the Haaretz daily.
“If you would listen to the details of my position I’m sure that you would not oppose it,” the prime minister told Akunis.
Palestinian official Mustafa Barghouti slammed Netanyahu’s comments in an interview with the Palestine News Network.
He compared the plan to the Bantustans, homeland areas set aside by apartheid South Africa governments in order to concentrate members of designated ethnic groups into autonomous nation-states within the country.
Barghouti said Palestinians will not be satisfied with a state in name only. The Palestinians demand a country with full sovereignty and borders and not to be living under “an apartheid state that continues the occupation,” he said.
Earlier this month, former US president Barack Obama challenged Netanyahu’s commitment to a two-state solution. He charged that Netanyahu’s actions indicate that he doesn’t support a two-state solution with the Palestinians, pointing to the acceleration of settlement construction in recent years “that was not compelled by Israel’s security.”
US President Donald Trump has signaled that his administration will take a more friendly approach to the Netanyahu government’s policies.