Habayit Hayehudi leader Naftali Bennett said Thursday that his party would not sit in a government that negotiates with the Palestinians based on 1967 borders. Other right-wing cabinet ministers and MKs were also quick to clarify that they would not cooperate with Netanyahu if he proceeds with talks on this basis. Such opposition may lead to a breakup of the coalition government, but will also seriously constrain Netanyahu within his own Likud faction.
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A senior Israeli official told Haaretz Thursday that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was expected to announce the resumption of peace talks on Friday. The outline for talks, according to the official, includes negotiations on borders based on 1967 lines, with land swaps – taking into account the current reality in the West Bank, i.e. the major settlement blocs.
Kerry's announcement, however, depends on the outcome of meetings between the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah. At the time of this report, there was still no final outcome from the deliberations.
Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, who heads Habayit Hayehudi, railed against the possibility that the government will agree to resume negotiations on this basis.
We would like to make it clear. Habayit Hayehudi under my leadership will not, even for one second, be part of a government that is party to negotiations based on the 1967 borders. Our capital Jerusalem is not, and never will be, a subject of negotiations, Bennett said.
Likud MK Miri Regev also strongly objected to using the 1967 borders as a basis for negotiations. Regev may become part of a broadly based front within the Likud, which will obstruct any effort by Netanyahu to reach a political settlement.
The decision to resume negotiations on the basis of the 1967 borders is a mistake that endangers, rather than serves the security of Israel, while negatively impacting the settlers and their endeavours, she said. Regev called on Netanyahu to convene Likud party institutions in order to present to central committee and Knesset faction members the outlined plan that is shaping up.
Opposition leader Shelly Yachimovich sent an open letter to Netanyahu on Thursday urging him to resume negotiations with the Palestinians.
Reality now dictates unambiguous conclusions leading to immediate commencement of political talks with the Palestinians in a sincere attempt to reach a solution. This is not the result of an American, European or even Palestinian interest," Yacimovich wrote. "The Israeli and Zionist interest now lies in continuing to realize the vision of a Jewish and democratic state. We hope that Secretary of State Kerry succeeds in reigniting the stalled negotiations. There are grounds for being optimistic, but this needs to be strengthened by positive winds blowing from Israel. Anyone supporting this move belongs to the national camp. Anyone who fails to understand this places himself in the camp supporting a bi-national solution.
Yachimovich assured Netanyahu of a strong and effective parliamentary safety net in case you run into political difficulties in your immediate vicinity.
President Shimon Peres hinted earlier Thursday that there was progress in the resuming negotiations, saying the renewal of peace talks was "within reach" due to Kerry's efforts.
Peres also urged European Union not to publish its new guidelines regarding Israeli settlements to avoid thwarting peace talks.
"From the latest information I have, Kerry has succeeded in promoting the chances of opening negotiations," Peres said. "The coming days will be critical, but we are within reach. I believe that the enormous effort is proving fruitful on the Israeli side and the Palestinian side. Both sides are making a supreme effort to overcome the latest obstacles.