Embattled Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has told members of his Likud Party that only he can thwart the emergence of a fully independent Palestinian state, directly opposing President Joe Biden’s plan to resurrect the two-state solution in the wake of the catastrophic Israeli bombing of Gaza.
Quoted in Israeli media, Netanyahu told legislators: “I am the only one who will prevent a Palestinian state in Gaza and [the West Bank] after the war.” Netanyahu reportedly met with at least ten backbenchers in his Likud Party over the past week in an effort to ensure their continued support, as the ruling party drops further in the polls since it began bombing Gaza.
According to the Jewish Chronicle Netanyahu doubled down on his position and dismissed peace talks with Palestinians altogether. The Israeli Prime Minister is reported saying that if re-elected he would not allow the establishment of a Palestinian state and argued that entering peace talks in the hope of achieving a two-state solution would result in a threat to security.
“In the current circumstances in the Middle East, any territory that you vacate will be used for an armed Islamist state against us,” Netanyahu is reported saying. “That’s exactly what happened in Lebanon. That’s what happened in Gaza. And since the Arab Spring, that’s what’s going to happen exactly in the West Bank — in Judea and Samaria — if we vacate territory.”
Netanyahu’s obstructionist position directly collides with President Joe Biden’s policy aim of reviving the two-state solution, which the White House views as being imperative for retaining partnerships with Arab states.
Further defying key allies, Netanyahu reportedly boasted about overriding US objections around ground incursions and attacking Gaza’s Shifa Hospital. He claimed that he had personal sway over President Biden due to a 40-year relationship.
“I have known [US President Joe] Biden for more than 40 years, and know how to speak to the American public,” Netanyahu is reported saying in the Times of Israel. He further made clear to the members of his party that he does not plan to go anywhere after the war.
Some 80 per cent of Israelis hold the prime minister responsible for the Palestinian resistance’s surprise infiltration of Israeli towns on 7 October, according to poll results in the Times of Israel. This includes 69 per cent of those who voted for the premier’s Likud Party in last year’s election.
Asked who is better suited to be prime minister, 49 per cent picked National Unity Party leader Benny Gantz and only 28 per cent picked Netanyahu, with the rest undecided.
Despite the uphill task, Netanyahu has made a habit of grabbing victory against the odds, as highlighted by the Jewish Chronicle yesterday. Going into Israel’s last general election, Netanyahu trailed significantly behind the centre-left Zionist Union in polls. In a surprise last-minute surge, Likud closed the gap in exit polls leaked shortly before official projections. Yet ultimately, Likud overperformed even wildly exceeding those numbers to beat Zionist Union by six seats – defying all critics. Netanyahu boasted this reflected his unique security credibility amongst rightist voters.