Likud and the New Right entered into a mudslinging match Monday evening, after US President Donald Trump’s senior adviser Jared Kushner gave an interview on the administration’s upcoming peace plan — with each party issuing stark warnings that the other would enable the establishment of a Palestinian state.
Kushner, in an interview with Sky News Arabic, said the administration’s long-awaited Israeli-Palestinian peace plan will focus on “redrawing of boundaries and resolving final status issues.”
The statements set off a combative back and forth between the coalition’s New Right, headed by Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud, with the two parties jostling to boost their right-wing credibility.
“There’s a clear and immediate danger in front of us: the establishment of a Palestinian state,” Bennett said in response to the Kushner interview.
“What Kushner said proves what we already knew — the day after the elections the Americans will push the Netanyahu-Lapid-Gantz government to allow for the establishment of a Palestinian state… and for the division of Jerusalem,” Bennett said in a statement.
“There’s only one way to prevent this: a strong and powerful New Right party which will boost Netanyahu but put pressure on him against Palestine,” he said.
Likud responded to Bennett’s charges, saying: “When Bennett and Shaked established the New Right they said they were doing it in order to pull votes from Lapid and Gantz to enlarge the right-wing bloc, and that they wouldn’t subject us to friendly fire. Now they are making false charges against Likud with the goal of pulling votes from Likud, which will bring about the rise of the left-wing government of Lapid and Gantz, whose party will be bigger than Likud.”
Likud further claimed that representatives of the New Right have “made contact with Lapid and Gantz to join them after the elections,” while Netanyahu “has made it unequivocally clear that he will form a right-wing government.
“Prime Minister Netanyahu has safeguarded the Land of Israel and the State of Israel against Obama’s hostile government and will continue to do so in the face of Trump’s sympathetic administration,” it said.
Responding to Likud’s claim that the party held talks with Gantz and Lapid, the New Right said: “The Likud announcement is pure fake news and utter nonsense. The pressure is clear… It’s the right or Palestine. Only the New Right will prevent the establishment of Palestine in the Land of Israel.”
Joining the fray, Jewish Home head Rafi Peretz wrote on Twitter that Kushner’s statements reminded him of the Gaza withdrawal “and the difficult pictures of IDF soldiers evicting families and myself from our homes. Only a large Jewish Home to the right of Netanyahu will fight for our values.”
For his part, head of the left-leaning Labor Party Avi Gabbay responded favorably to Kushner’s interview, saying, “We welcome the Kushner initiative to advance the political process. Separation from the Palestinians on the basis of a two-state solution is in Israel’s interest. This is our way in the Labor Party.”
Kushner spoke with Sky News Arabic in comments overlaid with an Arabic translation. His original English-language quotes were not immediately available.
Kushner said that since “very little has changed over the last 25 years,” the administration’s team had worked to “formulate realistic solutions for the issues of 2019, which will improve quality of life.
“We want to bring peace, not fear. We want to ensure there is free flow of people and of goods. We must create new opportunities.”
Kushner also called for unified rule over the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, areas that are currently split between the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority and the Hamas terror group, respectively.
“We want to see the Palestinians united under one leadership, the Palestinians want a non-corrupt government that cares for their own interests,” he said.
Kushner, who is also Trump’s son-in-law, added that the plan will “have a broad economic impact, not only on Israel and the Palestinians, but on the entire region as well.”
The Trump administration has closely guarded details of its peace proposal, which Kushner said in the interview was necessary to safeguard its chance of success.
“When we learned about previous rounds of negotiations, we discovered that many of the details came out before they were ready, which pushed the statesmen to flee from the plan,” he said.
Kusher said last week that details of the US plan would be released after Israeli elections on April 9.