Netanyahu Missed Opportunity to Convince Trump to Drop Two-states, Minister Bennett Says

Bennett accuses premier of 'passivity' after failing to put forward alternative when he offered a curb on settlement construction. Likud responds: 'Bennett is the last person who can preach.'

PM Netanyahu (r) and Education Minister Bennett at a weekly Government meeting, August, 2016.
Emil Salmon

A few days after the security cabinet meeting in which support for a policy of settlement restraint was presented by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, education minister and head of the Habayit Hayehudi party attacked the prime minster on twitter, claiming that due to a lack of political initiative he had missed an opportunity to persuade U.S. President Donald Trump to remove the two-state solution from the agenda.

Political sources said that the series of tweets put out by Bennett against Netanyahu was an attempt by the far-right minister to distinguish himself from the prime minister in policy after coming out in support of the curb in settlement construction last week.

Bennet, who in the last few days has been subjected to criticism from within his own party for supporting the curb, emphasized in his tweets that he did not oppose Netanyahu plan as it imposed neither a quantifiable nor geographical limitation on settlement building.

"The new policy is balanced and reasonable provided that it is put into action. From experience, we will need to make sure that it will be implemented [by Netanyahu]," wrote Bennett.

The education minister added that Netanyahu had acted passively by not presenting Trump with an alternative to the two-state solution, and thus missed out on a strategic opportunity.

"The story is not about President Trump, but the position of the Israeli government. Because we did not put a decisive Israeli initiative on the table we have returned to the two-state solution which will not lead to anywhere other than frustration," Bennet tweeted. "I don’t need to complain because this is Netanyahu's declared policy – two states the Likud party is OK continuing with tactical management and maneuvering, but for a deep change, only a big Habayit Hayehudi [is capable]."

The Likud issued a sharp response that included a personal attack on Bennett. "It's amusing to read Bennett's tweets on Prime Minister Netanyahu, who acts decisively, wisely and with responsibility for Israel's security and settlement," Likud responsed.

"Bennett is the last person who can preach pressure-resistance when he, as education minister, surrenders at every turn to pressure from the New [Israel] Fund on the Education Ministry and keeps Mahmoud Darwish in the education curriculum, or when he gives responsibility over civics to an extreme leftist, and turns a blind eye to Palestinian incitement in schools in the Arab sector and East Jerusalem that are financed by the Education Ministry, of which he is the head," Likud added.