Habayit Hayehudi leader Naftali Bennett strongly criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday evening, calling the prime minister to adopt a policy that nixes the two-state solution for the conflict with the Palestinians.
Bennett, who is the education minister in Netanyahu's cabinet, was responding to reports that U.S. President Donald Trump intends to announce his support for Palestinian self-determination during his visit to Israel later this month.
"Israel must initiate and set out its own vision, otherwise, as signs once again show, its fate will be determined by others," Bennett said.
Bennett blasted Netanyahu's 2009 speech at the Bar-Ilan University, in which the prime minister reiterated his support for the two-state solution. The minister castigated the Bar-Ilan policy as a "failed messianic formula," that "led to bloodshed, diplomatic deterioration and will bring about a demographic disaster."
Bennett suggested Israel should nix the two-state solution, and instead annex the "Israeli areas in Judea and Samaria," seek "entrepreneur-based regional economic development," "stabilize the Gaza Strip and strengthen Israel as a security, intelligence and economic anchor in the region."
Netanyahu's Likud party called Bennett's remarks "surreal self-flagellation," and said that Netanyahu "is standing resolutely and forcefully against all international pressures, more than any other prime minister in recent decades."
Trump is set to visit Israel and the Palestinian Authority on May 22. On Friday, Trump's national security adviser, General H.R. McMaster, made a rare appearance at the White House's daily press briefing, at which he said that the president will express support for Palestinian "self-determination" during his trip.
McMaster also said Trump will use the trip to promote a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians, and to reaffirm America's "unshakable bond" with Israel.
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