'Palestinian Flag Has Been Taken Off the Flagpole': Right-wing Israeli Politicians Hail Trump-Netanyahu Meet

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Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett gestures during a vote on a bill at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, in Jerusalem February 6, 2017.
Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett gestures during a vote on a bill at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, in Jerusalem February 6, 2017.Credit: AMMAR AWAD/REUTERS

Right-wing ministers and MKs rushed on Wednesday evening to declare the two-state solution null and void following the joint press conference by U.S. President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which many of them called “historic.”

Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Habayit Hayehudi), who had pressured Netanyahu to renounce the possibility of a Palestinian state, welcomed Trump’s remarks. “The Palestinian flag has been taken off the flagpole and was replaced with the Israeli flag. The Palestinians already have two states – Gaza and Jordan. There is no need for a third,” he said.

“I congratulate the prime minister for making the right decision,” Bennett added. “He demonstrated leadership and daring, and fortified the security of Israel and its sovereignty.”

Bennett's party colleague, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, stressed Trump’s far-reaching commitment to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons in the future.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) said Trump’s remarks, “Prove we are in a new era. The positions the president took indicate an understanding that the two-state solution is not the only solution for achieving peace and that the time has come to reverse the equation and exert pressure on the Palestinian side.”

Culture Minister Miri Regev (Likud) translated Trump’s remarks into a practical message. “The era of the freeze has ended. It’s the end of the [construction] freeze in Judea and Samaria. It’s the end of the frozen relations between the United States and Israel. A new diplomatic era began in Washington today.”

Science and Technology Minister Ofir Akunis (Likud) said, “Finally the end has come for a mistaken and dangerous idea; setting up a Palestinian terror state in the heart of the Land of Israel. President Trump also understands that the two-state formula won’t bring peace in the Middle East and that other solutions must be found to achieve peace. Today was a very important day for all those who love the Land of Israel.”

MK Amir Ohana (Likud) said, that Trump, “Not only demonstrated true friendship with Israel but an understanding that was so lacking until now, that the Israeli-Arab conflict will be resolved, if ever, by the Israelis and the Arabs and only by them.”

MK Shelly Yacimovich (Zionist Union), however, didn’t perceive any changes in American policy. “If you discount the warmth and encouragement from President Trump, what Netanyahu heard this evening doesn’t differ in any way from what his predecessors said. He demanded that Israel stop the settlements, declared that he would work hard on a good deal in which both sides would have to compromise, and asked Israel for flexibility, compromises and concessions.”

She added, “I call on Netanyahu to take advantage of his excellent relations with President Trump and understand that now there are no more excuses; Israel must present a clear and bold diplomatic plan that favors the continuing existence of a strong, Jewish and democratic Israel. Promoting such a plan under a president who’s a fan of Netanyahu is a good starting point.”

MK Zehava Gaon (Meretz) warned against abandoning the two-state solution. “It doesn’t matter what Trump says or what he doesn’t say, the Israeli interest is the two-state solution,” Galon said. “There is no solution other than ending the occupation that leaves Israel Jewish and democratic, and any other solution promises an apartheid state that only serves Netanyahu’s desire to preserve his coalition and his seat.”

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