Kulanu party chairman Moshe Kahlon continues to support a two-state solution but says there is no point to negotiations at the moment because there is "no partner."
There is no reason to discuss possible solutions with the Palestinians right now, "because there is no partner on the other side," Kahlon said Sunday, in response to questions from readers on Haaretz's Hebrew website. "When there is a partner I will give my support," he said, adding, "Tomorrow morning there could be a partner."
Kahlon, a former communications minister who was a member of Likud before founding his own party last year, distanced himself from what Likud says is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's backtracking Sunday from his 2009 Bar-Ilan speech in support of a "demilitarized Palestinian state that would recognize the Jewish state."
"I supported the Bar-Ilan speech and still support it," Kahlon told Haaretz. "All these sleights of hand – I can't keep up with them. I have a line. During the Bar-Ilan speech I was a minister in the cabinet and I expressed support for it, and I still support it."
The Likud campaign said Sunday that Netanyahu says "any evacuated territory would fall into the hands of Islamic extremist and terror organizations supported by Iran," meaning "there will be no concessions or withdrawals; they are simply irrelevant."
Later the same day, the Prime Minister's Office disavowed the disavowal, saying Netanyahu had made no such comment.
When asked whether he could be part of a government that hands over settlements, Kahlon said he would only deal with the issue when there was a Palestinian partner with whom to negotiate, at which point it would support "an agreement that will strengthen Israel's security and safeguard its security interests."
Though Kahlon would not say who his party would support as a candidate for prime minister after Israelis vote for a political party March 17, he made it clear that it would not necessarily be the leader of the party to which he used to belong.
"The State of Israel needs to have a military option," Kahlon said in response to a question about whether Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog would be able to lead the country in a possible confrontation with Iran. "The composition of the government doesn't matter, whether it's Bibi [Netanyahu] or Bougie [Herzog]."
"Our preferred candidate for prime minister is the person whom we will be convinced is going to implement our socioeconomic agenda: housing prices, dealing with the cost of living, competition and the reduction of [inequality] gaps," said Kahlon.