Opposition Seeks Knesset Vote on Netanyahu’s Two-state Solution

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The Knesset plenum, July 2015.Credit: Emil Salman

The Knesset opposition is expected to challenge the government Sunday by forcing the Ministerial Committee for Legislation to vote on a bill based on Benjamin Netanyahu’s 2009 speech in which he endorsed the creation of a Palestinian state.

In the speech at Bar-Ilan University, the prime minister expressed support, under certain conditions, for a Palestinian state alongside Israel. Later this week, MKs in the governing coalition will be required to take a position on the bill when it comes up for a vote in the full Knesset.

“It could very well be that Netanyahu will vote against himself, but the entire world would see it,” said opposition MK Yoel Hasson (Zionist Union).

Hasson accused the government of lacking a diplomatic agenda, saying there was no mention in the coalition agreements of a plan like the Bar-Ilan plan. “The Netanyahu government is being dragged into diplomatic matters rather than leading them,” Hasson said.

He said he knows the bill will be voted down in the Ministerial Committee for Legislation, a panel of ministers that votes on whether the coalition will support legislation. It will also fail in the Knesset, but at least there will be a “substantial and serious diplomatic discussion in the Knesset,” Hasson said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivering his much-vaunted speech at Bar-Ilan University in 2009.Credit: Michael Kramer

“It’s a declarative step, but ... the Bar-Ilan speech can be turned into policy, a policy that's not bad at all. Israeli diplomats being asked about Netanyahu’s worldview explain he espouses the principles of the Bar-Ilan speech, but this speech has never come to a vote by the cabinet, and there’s no reference to it in the coalition agreements.”

Still, with Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at odds during this month’s stabbing attacks and the Israeli response, diplomacy is not expected to be forthcoming.