Sunday, May 17, 2009
Netanyahu Pressured from All Sides on '2-State Solution'
Maayana Miskin Pressure For, Against '2 States'
With Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in the United States to meet with U.S. President Barack Obama, Members of Knesset from all sides of the political spectrum are upping the pressure. Members of Likud warned Netanyahu not to automatically accept a “two-state solution” with the Palestinian Authority, while members of Labor told the prime minister he has no other choice. MK Danny Danon of Likud wrote a letter to Netanyahu on Friday offering his support and warning against the “two-state solution,” despite American pressure. Netanyahu and the political right won the last elections due to their ideological opposition to a PA state, Danon said, and owe it to their voters to stay strong in the face of pressure.
Minister of Transportation Yisrael Katz, also of Likud, announced over the weekend that Israel is not obligated to pursue peace initiatives that have failed in the past. Instead, Netanyahu and Obama should establish a joint Israeli-American task force “to promote an alternative Middle East initiative, which will replace earlier initiatives such as the Saudi Plan and previous governments' negotiations,” Katz said.
Education Minister Gidon Saar defended Netanyahu's record on peace initiatives, pointing out that Israel's last agreement with the PA, the Wye Accords, was signed under Netanyahu's auspices.
Saar expressed support for Netanyahu's plan to build the PA's economy and military as a crucial part of any negotiated settlement. Supporters of the plan say the PA is currently not sufficiently politically or financially stable to lead an independent country.
Labor 'Rebels' – You Have no Choice
While Likud MKs told Netanyahu not to give in to pressure, four Labor party “rebels” told the prime minister he has no other choice. The MKs – Yuli Tamir, Eitan Cabel, Amir Peretz, and Ophir Pines-Paz – gave Netanyahu a letter promoting a “two-state solution” and referring to alternative proposals as “useless ideas.”
The writers are often referred to as Labor “rebels” due to their opposition to Labor's membership in the coalition, a stance that opposes that taken by party head Ehud Barak.
The four told Netanyahu that to refuse an independent state would be “to delude yourself, and the Israeli people, into thinking that you have the power to avoid the process leading to a permanent solution based on two states for two peoples.”
"You must decide whether or not you have the courage to take advantage of the opportunity presented by the American president and leaders of the Arab world,” the letter continued.
The writers were apparently referring to the Arab Peace initiative, also known as the Saudi Plan. The plan calls on Israel to give up Judea, Samaria, and historic Jerusalem in their entirety, to release all terrorist prisoners, and to provide a solution for millions of foreign Arabs who claim Israel as their home.