Israel’s right-wing Yamina party has vowed to quit any future ruling coalition if US President Donald Trump demands “practical steps” towards peace as part of his long-awaited “deal of the century”.
Speaking to the Jerusalem Post yesterday, Education Minister and Yamina number two Rafi Peretz explained that he would not tolerate any form of Palestinian sovereignty; “between the [Mediterranean] sea and Jordan, there will only be one sovereign: the State of Israel,” Peretz claimed, vowing to resist any attempts to create a future Palestinian state alongside Israel.
Peretz also said explicitly that he would not remain in a governing coalition which took steps towards a peace settlement with the Palestinians, even if this were demanded by the Trump administration.
“If Trump wants to speak, he can speak,” Peretz claimed, “[but] if it comes to practical language, we will not stay in a government like this”. Practical steps which would prompt Yamina to quit the coalition, the education minister explained, include the evacuation of Israel’s illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank, which have proved a consistent stumbling block in previous peace negotiations.
Yamina is expected to join a ruling coalition following Israel’s upcoming general election on 17 September, in particular should Netanyahu secure re-election and be tasked with forming the government.
Though Peretz vowed that Yamina “would not topple the government over negotiations,” given that it could secure as many as 12 seats in next month’s election, its departure would likely render any coalition defunct, deprive it of a majority and prompt fresh elections.
The political element of the “deal of the century” has been repeatedly delayed, with its latest timescale pitting it for release once Israel has formed a new government, most likely by late October.
In contrast, the economic aspect of the deal was revealed during the “Peace to Prosperity” conference, which took place in Bahraini capital Manama in June. Though the conference was held with much fanfare, the plan was widely criticised as attempting to turn the occupied Palestinian territories into a “hot IPO”. In a rare show of unity, the Palestinian factions rallied together in their opposition to the economic portion of the plan, stressing that Palestine “is not for sale”.
Peretz also discussed the steps Yamina is taking to create “facts on the ground” which will prevent any future peace agreement.
Earlier this week, the party proposed moving a further half a million illegal Israeli settlers into the occupied West Bank, almost doubling the current figure which stands at over 600,000. Claiming the plan represented a way to tackle Israel’s housing shortage, Yamina head Ayelet Shaked said the party is looking to construct 113,000 settler housing units over a period of five years.
This would effectively link Ariel – a city-settlement which stretches deep into the West Bank – with Rosh Ha’ayin, an Israeli neighbourhood located inside the Green Line.
“If we bring another half a million people to [the West Bank], it will always be in Jewish hands. You can’t move one million people,” Peretz told the Israeli daily.
We want the Green line not to exist. Trains, roads, housing units will all help towards this. That’s how it needs to be […] We will try to get there, to establish [Israeli] sovereignty for these territories, expand the settlements, build new settlements.