One of the top-ranking figures in the Israeli coalition government, Economics Minister Naftali Bennett, has once again underscored just how divided the coalition is on the peace process by declaring talks “pointless” and the notion of a two-state solution “dead.”
Bennett, who has repeatedly insisted that God gave the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip to Israel to rule, insisted that there was “no occupation” because the territory is eternally Israeli, demanding a full-scale annexation of the West Bank. The annexation plan is a key aspect of Bennett’s Jewish Home’s platform.
Bennett went on to say it was time for Israelis to “live with” the reality that there will never be a Palestinian state, and focus instead of dramatically expanding settlements so there can never be a dispute of who controls the land.
The statements were quickly disavowed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but they come only a week after a row with the Deputy Defense Minister, a top figure of Netanyahu’s own Likud Party, saying basically the same thing.
The statement was condemned by Science Minister Jacob Perry of Yesh Atid, who said that the two-state solution was the only thing that could save Israel from the horrors of a “bi-national” state in which Arabs enjoy political equality as well as numerical superiority.
The narrow coalition government is split on a lot of issues, but none so much as the peace process, and this could be the one that ultimately tears them apart and forces an early election.