On the eve of national elections in Israel, politically-embattled Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed that if he and his Likud Party were returned to power for another term he would make sure that an independent Palestinian state would not come into being.
The comments come as a reversal of official Israeli government policy which, like the U.S. government, states that a two-state solution is the preferred outcome for the decades-long conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.
As the New York Times reports:
Mr. Netanyahu made the assertion on the eve of an election in which he is trailing in the polls. He has been campaigning aggressively, appealing to conservatives for support.
“I think that anyone who is going to establish a Palestinian state today and evacuate lands, is giving attack grounds to the radical Islam against the state of Israel,” he said in a video interview published on the NRG website. “Anyone who ignores this is sticking his head in the sand. The left does this time and time again. We are realistic and understand.”
Asked if he meant that a Palestinian state would not be established if he were to continue as Israel’s prime minister, Mr. Netanyahu replied: “Correct.”
Netanyahu’s comments on Monday come a day after stating that his government, if it remains in power, will not be afraid to build new settlements in East Jerusalem and across the occupied territories. Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the rightful capital of a future Palestinian state.