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PM reiterates support for demilitarized ‘Palestine’

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Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu stands by his support for a Palestinian state under the conditions described in his 2009 Bar-Ilan speech, despite claims to the contrary by other Likud Beytenu candidates, a spokesman for the joint election list said on Monday.
The Likud-Yisrael Beytenu slate does not have a platform, and several candidates have spoken out recently against Palestinian statehood and a two-state solution.
“A Palestinian state will be established when the Palestinians recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people, will declare the end of the [Israeli-Palestinian] conflict and only if arrangements ensuring the security of Israeli citizens are made,” the Likud Beytenu spokesman stated.
Netanyahu, according to the spokesman, does not see a Palestinian state at the top of his agenda, with Hamas ruling Gaza and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas working with Hamas and taking unilateral actions. The prime minister’s priority, he said, is to lead Israel while it is faced with a growing Hamas and the Iranian threat.
“The Left brought up questions [about Palestinian statehood] because they are ignoring the true, immediate threats of what is happening around us in the Middle East,” he added.
The comments came a day after President Shimon Peres, addressing Israeli ambassadors gathered in Jerusalem, called Abbas a “partner for peace” and argued that there is no alternative to the two-state solution.
In response, Likud Beytenu blasted Peres as being disconnected from public opinion.
“A Palestinian state would not only fail to bring peace and stability to the region, but would increase the tension and usher in permanent instability,” Yair Shamir, fourth on the Likud Beytenu list, said on Monday.
“The long and determined effort by Israeli leaders to promote a Palestinian state and to soften the Palestinian Authority’s harsh features cannot change the fact that a Palestinian state would add fuel to the fire of terrorism in the region,” Shamir added. “We must remove the idea of a Palestinian state in our area from the Israeli agenda immediately if not sooner.”
Also on Monday, MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) suggested that Netanyahu’s Bar-Ilan speech had been “tactical” and directed at international ears rather than a local audience.
Speaking as part of a panel at Efrata Academic College, Hotovely added that the Likud party platform did not support the formation of a Palestinian state.
Last week, Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar, the top candidate on the Likud list after Netanyahu, said his party opposed Palestinian statehood, and that the prime minister described the conditions his predecessors set for negotiations with the Palestinian Authority in his Bar-Ilan address.
“Today, there is no Palestinian partner to end the conflict because they want to continue it, and if they want to continue the conflict there is no way to give them a state so they can fight from an improved status,” Sa’ar told Ynet.
According to Sa’ar, if the Palestinians show willingness to negotiate, the conditions mentioned in the Bar-Ilan speech would be put on the table.
“There’s no reason to return to slogans that have no connection to reality,” he said.

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