Senior Likud officials called Monday for the omission of a reference to the establishment of a Palestinian state from the party's platform. This was meant to be included after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recognized the principle of the two-state solution in his 2009 Bar-Ilan University speech.
With less than a month to go before the election, Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu have yet to present the platform of their joint slate, and according to sources in the parties it is not clear when and if a platform will be issued.
“Dividing the land will bring about Israel’s destruction,” one senior Likud official said Monday, speaking on condition of anonymity. “We’ve said that in the past and we say it today. How does this sit with recognizing a Palestinian state?,” he said Monday, cautioning against adding such a clause to the platform.
Another senior party official said, “Likud’s platform to date has not recognized the establishment of a Palestinian state, and Yisrael Beiteinu rejects outright the possibility that a Palestinian state could be established alongside Israel.”
Another Likud source said, “It’s not clear how [Likud stalwarts such as] Reuven Rivlin, Moshe Ya’alon or Zeev Elkin could reconcile with a platform” that includes acceptance of a Palestinian state.
The lack of an official joint platform was very noticeable during an interview Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar, number-three on the joint slate, gave Monday to the Ynet news site. He stated his opposition to the establishment of a Palestinian state, reminding the interviewer that the “two-state” principle has never been part of Likud’s platform and hinting that this will not change during the election campaign.
In the wake of the Palestinian appeal for nonmember observer status in the United Nations, Sa’ar said, “There’s no place to establish a state for them so they can continue the conflict from an improved position.”
According to Yisrael Beiteinu’s platform, “The demand to establish a Palestinian state and the ‘right of return’ are designed to camouflage the real intention, which is to erase the State of Israel as a Jewish and Zionist state.”
Likud sources said Monday the plan is to keep the party’s position on the Palestinian issue as vague as possible in the pre-election period.
Officials in the joint Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu election headquarters Monday repeatedly avoided giving clear answers on the subject. It must be assumed that any platform that is to be released before the election will not include a clear statement on the Bar-Ilan University speech or the two-state principle.
Hatnuah chairwoman Tzipi Livni Monday attacked Likud on the issue. In an address she made Monday, symbolically, at Bar-Ilan University, she said: “Netanyahu buried today the Bar-Ilan speech and I intend to revive it and its principles. The Bar-Ilan speech turned into the spin of our lives here in recent years, and the essence of the Netanyahu government’s lie. Likud-Beiteinu refuses to include in its platform the same speech that Netanyahu waved in front of the whole world, with which he tried to convince how moderate and peace-seeking he is. Today the whole world knows this was no more than lip service, a mask behind which Netanyahu travelled the world to deliver nice speeches.”
The Prime Minister’s Bureau yesterday refused to answer questions regarding Sa’ar’s interview and whether the Bar-Ilan declaration will be incorporated into the election platform.
The Likud election headquarters also preferred general, evasive replies and said that the platform is still being prepared.