Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister appears to be waging a campaign against the creation of a Palestinian state on land occupied by Israel since 1967. Zeev Elkin has expressed his categorical opposition to such a move.
Maariv newspaper quoted Elkin's statement just hours after another meeting between Benjamin Netanyahu and US Secretary of State John Kerry during which the latter is reported to have said that the two-state solution is acceptable to both parties. On the 20th anniversary of the Oslo Accords, 16 members of the Israeli Knesset from the Likud Party and Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel our home) Party sent a joint letter to Netanyahu demanding that he should "avoid repeating the Oslo mistake".
Elkin told his colleagues in Likud, "Eleven years ago, Likud was asked the same question: should we allow the creation of a Palestinian state? Netanyahu, who led the argument at the time, replied, 'If we agree to a Palestinian state we agree to eliminate the Jewish state and if we agree to a Jewish state we must not agree to a Palestinian state'."
Of the 2,500 Israelis killed in suicide bombings, Elkin added, 1,500 died after the Oslo Accords were signed. "The figures speak for themselves. The sea of tears began after Oslo which Rabin wanted to stop. Agreements do not always bring peace and security; sometimes they bring more bloodshed." He denied that the cause of the conflict is the Israeli settlements. "The conflict started before settlements," he argued. "The real intention is to get rid of us."
The deputy minister insisted that Netanyahu's arguments 11 years ago opposing the creation of a Palestinian are still valid today. "Ariel Sharon, the Prime Minister at the time, opposed Netanyahu," claimed Elkin. Netanyahu said then that the Palestinians shall enjoy all rights apart from the right to eliminate the state of Israel. "Therefore the Palestinians get self governance and not a state of their own."
According to Elkin, the Palestinian state is the dream of the future. "We also have our own dream; where the wolf and the lamb live together. When our dream realises itself in the Middle East, we will discuss the new Palestinian state with the Likud."
Yariv Levin, chairman of the government coalition in Israel, said that he "will not run a coalition that leads to the creation of a Palestinian state"; he claimed that he will remain in office only as long as the government is going in the "right way".
Stressing the "necessity" of building settlements in all areas, Levin said that this "will maintain social justice and block attempts to control Likud". This was a reference to an attempt to merge Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu.