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Bennett: No peace with Palestinians, siege on Gaza to continue

August 25, 2021 at 11:54 am

Israeli prime minister Naftali Bennett speaks during the Cyber Week event at the Tel Aviv university on 21 July 2021. [GIDEON MARKOWICZ/AFP via Getty Images]

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett told the New York Times yesterday that there would be no peace with the Palestinians and the Israeli siege on Gaza will continue as long as Hamas rules the coastal enclave.

Before his meeting with the US President Joe Biden, Bennett ruled out any progress in the peace process with the Palestinian, claiming peace talks would not happen because the Palestinian leadership is fractured and rudderless, as well as because he is resolutely opposed to Palestinian sovereignty.

He said that there would be no peace talks with the Palestinians because he is afraid this would dissolve his government, which includes parties that support Palestinian statehood and others who oppose it.

“This government is a government that will make dramatic breakthroughs in the economy,” Bennett said. “Its claim to fame will not be solving the 130-year-old conflict here in Israel.”

He added: “This government will neither annex nor form a Palestinian state, everyone gets that. I’m prime minister of all Israelis, and what I’m doing now is finding the middle ground — how we can focus on what we agree upon.”

Regarding Gaza, Bennett said that the Israeli siege will remain in place as long as Hamas, which was elected in a free ballot by Palestinians in 2006, is ruling the coastal enclave.

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The extremist right-wing Israeli prime minister said he would be prepared to engage in another war with Hamas even if it lost him the support of the four Arab lawmakers whose backing keeps him in power.

“I will do what’s necessary to secure my people,” Bennett said. “I will not and never involve political considerations in defense- and security-related decisions.”

He considered expanding existing Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, which are illegal under international law and an impediment to the creation of a future Palestinian state in the occupied territories, as part of the natural growth of Israel.

“Israel will continue the standard policy of natural growth,” Bennett said.