Netanyahu’s Likud Party to Vote On Opposition to Palestinian State

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu waves to his governing Likud Party members during the Likud convention in Tel Aviv, Israel, Monday, Oct. 29, 2012. Israel's governing Likud Party has approved a merger with an ultranationalist rival, forming a hawkish bloc that appears poised to sweep upcoming parliamentary elections. The move …
AP/Ariel Schalit

TEL AVIV – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party will vote on whether to oppose the creation of a Palestinian state on Tuesday, a move that will trigger a chain of events that could include the collapse of the Palestinian Authority. 

Although Netanyahu officially endorsed the the two-state solution in his 2009 speech at Bar Ilan University, several years prior he helped lead a group of Likud activists pushing a proposal opposing a Palestinian state. That 2002 proposal eventually led then-prime minister and Likud leader Ariel Sharon to leave the party.

The vote, which has been delayed several times for fear of backlash from the international community, will take place at the party’s ideological bureau in the West Bank town of Ariel.

However, Shevah Stern, who heads the Likud branch in the Mateh Binyamin Regional Council in the West Bank and also chairs the party’s Nationalist Forum, said that Friday night’s terror attack that saw three family members stabbed to death by a Palestinian terrorist meant that the time was ripe.

“I am not making problems for the prime minister,” Stern said, according to the Jerusalem Post. “We are not acting against the prime minister, but we do want to have an influence on him and other ministers to follow the path of Likud, which is against a Palestinian state.”

For over a year, Stern labored to get the vote scheduled for Tuesday by gathering the support of a fifth of the bureau’s members.

According to the Post, a vote against Palestinian statehood would also mean the ruling party officially opposes the Saudi-led Arab Peace Initiative that calls for an unlimited number of Palestinian refugees to enter Israel. It would also mean officially scrapping an obsolete French peace initiative brokered by former president Francois Holland and championed by former secretary of state John Kerry.

Netanyahu would also need to begin making plans for the possible collapse of the Palestinian Authority, something that Ze’ev Elkin, the head of the ideological bureau and the minister for environmental protection, has long advocated.

In September, a Likud central committee meeting will take place in which Stern and his associates at the Nationalist Forum hope to pass additional proposals calling for unrestricted construction in the West Bank and the annexation of Jewish communities there.

Netanyahu, who has been trying to stall these proposals as well as Tuesday’s vote, recently said that no one from his party needs to force his position since he already stands firmly on the right of the political spectrum.

“If he’s on the Right, then that’s terrific,” Stern said in response. “Being on the Right means annexing the land. We don’t need to do just what he wants. The party has institutions and they make decisions too. He does not rule alone. He’s not a dictator.”

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