Israeli education minister and leader of the new right-wing party, Hayamin Hehadash, Naftali Bennett, called on U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday to release the forthcoming American plan for peace between Israel and the Palestinians before the April 9 Knesset election.
Switching to English for a moment, Bennett implored: “Let my people know.”
“Israel has no greater friend than the United States and there is no doubt that you, President Trump, are a genuine friend of Israel. At the same time, friends don’t keep secrets from one another,” Bennett said at an event in Tel Aviv sponsored by the Federation of Local Authorities.
“Almost under the radar, a process is taking place that will change the face of the State of Israel and could spell disaster for us in the form of the establishment of the State of Palestine,” said Bennett. “Trump’s ‘plan of the century’ is progressing and everyone knows what’s in it other than those who are most important, the citizens of Israel.”
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Jared Kushner, President Trump’s senior adviser, told Sky News Arabia on Monday that the administration’s peace plan will address all core issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including borders. “We want to see Palestinians under one leadership that will allow them to live in dignity,” he said, adding: “We are trying to come up with realistic solutions that are relevant to the year 2019.”
At Sunday’s cabinet meeting, Bennett claimed that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Trump would begin working toward establishing a Palestinian state immediately after the Knesset election.
The two agreed to present a plan “to establish a Palestinian state on 90 percent of the area [of the West Bank], including the division of Jerusalem” a day or two after the election “so as not to make things difficult for Netanyahu,” the Hayamin Hehadash leader said at the cabinet meeting.
In response, the prime minster said about Bennett: “It’s natural that he is stressed and he’s a bit confused,” adding: “It’s obvious that small parties do all sorts of strange things during the election, including saying things that are unfounded.”
The chair of the left-wing Meretz party, Tamar Zandberg, joined Bennett's call Wednesday to have Trump publish his plan prior to the election, saying: "The most important thing in the next government's policy will be immediately promoting peace. The citizens of Israel deserve to know what kind of agreement will be put on the table and what the parties think of it."
Speaking in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, Bennett said: “We all know that ‘the deal of the century’ will be submitted immediately after the election in Israel, but we, the Israelis, are in the dark regarding the plan itself.”
“The Americans, the Saudi prince,” an apparent reference to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, “the Palestinians, the king of Jordan, and even Turkish President [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan – blatant anti-Semite – even he is in the loop,” Bennett said. “Everyone’s in the picture. Everyone except us, the people of Israel.”
“Despite the fact that we have deep respect for the American president, and despite no one doubting his good intentions, it is we, the Israelis, who would pay the price for this fatal mistake.”
In 2009, at a speech at Bar-Ilan University, Netanyahu expressed support for the establishment of a Palestinian state. “If we get a guarantee of demilitarization” and “ironclad security provisions, we will be prepared to reach agreements for a demilitarized Palestine, side by side with the Jewish state,” he said at the time. More recently, however, he has avoided such explicit statements, particularly in Hebrew.