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UN Mideast envoy: Israeli ministers are ‘killing hope’ for peace

After Jewish Home vows there will never be a Palestinian state, Mladenov expresses ‘concern’ over ‘determination of some… to block progress’

File: UN Middle East peace envoy Nikolay Mladenov after a press conference in Gaza City, April 30, 2015. (AFP/Mahmud Hams)
File: UN Middle East peace envoy Nikolay Mladenov after a press conference in Gaza City, April 30, 2015. (AFP/Mahmud Hams)

JERUSALEM — The UN’s special coordinator for the Middle East peace process on Wednesday accused a key coalition partner of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of “killing hope” for an agreement.

Nickolay Mladenov spoke after Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked from the right-wing Jewish Home, which holds several portfolios in Netanyahu’s government, declared the party would never support a two-state solution.

“The determination of some ministers in Israel to block progress and kill hope by promoting illegal settlements and rejecting a Palestinian state is concerning,” Mladenov said in a statement to AFP.

Netanyahu this week brought hardliner Avigdor Liberman and his Yisrael Beytenu party into the ruling coalition, naming him as defense minister.

The choice of Liberman to oversee Israeli policy in the West Bank raised concern about the lurch in government policy, but in his first speech he took a conciliatory tone — committing himself to the two-state solution along with Netanyahu.

In response, Jewish Home, another right-wing party in Netanyahu’s coalition, said it would oppose any attempt at a two-state solution.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked seen during a Jewish Home faction meeting at the Knesset, May 23, 2016. (iriam Alster/Flash90)
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked seen during a Jewish Home faction meeting at the Knesset, May 23, 2016. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

“As long as we are in the government, there will be no Palestinian state, there will be no settlement evacuations and we will not give any land to our enemies,” Shaked said on Tuesday, quoted in Israeli media.

Mladenov said the comments were particularly concerning as they came “a day after encouraging signs by the prime minister.”

Netanyahu had also said that an Arab League-endorsed peace initiative dating to 2002 “includes positive elements that can help revive constructive negotiations with the Palestinians.”

Netanyahu’s government, however, is widely referred to in Israel as the most right-wing in the country’s history.

On Friday, in a French-led peace initiative, representatives from 30 countries and international organizations are due to meet in Paris to discuss a potential action plan.

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