Netanyahu: Bar-Ilan 2-state Speech No Longer Relevant in Today's Reality

Prime Minister's Office later denied that Netanyahu backtracked on his 2009 speech, in which he expressed support for creating a 'demilitarized Palestinian state.'

Avi Ohayon

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared on Sunday that the "Bar Ilan speech," from June 2009, in which he expressed support for creating a "demilitarized Palestinian state that would recognize the Jewish state," is no longer relevant, in light of the current reality in the Middle East.

Netanyahu's statement was published by the Likud campaign in response to questions from journalists. The questions were submitted to the Likud campaign in the wake of a statement that appeared this weekend in a weekly Shabbat pamphlet that contained the stances of each political party on creating a Palestinian state.

"The Prime Minister announced that the Bar-Ilan speech is null and void," read the message in the pamphlet, continuing, "Netanyahu's entire political biography is a fight against the creation of a Palestinian state."

Following the publication, Likud clarified on Sunday that the statement was written by Tzipi Hotovely, who was expressing her personal opinion, and not the party's stance on the issue.

Later on Sunday, however, following additional questions from journalists about the statement, as well as recent revelations of concessions that Netanyahu apparently made during negotiations with the Palestinians, the Likud election campaign published a statement that was very similar to the one made by Hotovely in the Shabbat pamphlet.

"Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that [in light of] the situation that has arisen in the Middle East, any evacuated territory would fall into the hands of Islamic extremism and terror organizations supported by Iran. Therefore, there will be no concessions or withdrawals; they are simply irrelevant."

Later on Sunday, the Prime Minister's Office said in response that Netanyahu made no comment to that effect. "Prime Minister Netanyahu has made clear for years that given the current conditions in the Middle East, any territory that is given will be seized by the radical Islam just like what happened Gaza and in southern Lebanon," the PMO said in a statement, adding that such a scenario is particularly likely "in a reality in which the Palestinian Authority is in an alliance with the Hamas terrorist organization."

On January 6, Netanyahu commented on the Bar-Ilan speech in an interview with Amit Segal and Yonit Levi on Channel 2. Netanyahu said then that the Bar-Ilan speech was still relevant, "but that the Palestinians have emptied it of any relevance," by pursuing unilateral action in the International Criminal Court in The Hague. "The conditions that they currently want make it simply irrelevant," said Netanyahu then, adding, "there is no partner for peace."

During the 2009 election campaign, and after he was elected in April that year, Netanyahu said that he supported "economic peace," but did not express support for creating a Palestinian state.

Following significant pressure from the United States, however, two months after the election, in June 2009, Netanyahu changed his long-held position and expressed support for creating a demilitarized Palestinian state, on the condition that it would recognize Israel as a Jewish state.