Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday reiterated his support for the establishment of a demilitarized Palestinian state that will be under Israel's security control.
In an interview with CNN, Netanyahu said that he had told U.S. President Donald Trump that the state of affairs he would like to see was Palestinian self-government in a demilitarized state with "none of the powers to threaten us." He added that Israel must have overriding security control in such a situation.
"People say, 'Was that commensurate with a state?'" Netanyahu asked. "I don't know, you decide. ... I want the Palestinians to govern themselves, but not to be able to threaten us."
As for the Middle East peace plan the Trump administration has said it is formulating, Netanyahu said he would look at it "with a keen and open mind."
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Nonetheless, the premier refused to commit to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, days after Trump backed it.
"I've discovered that, if you use labels, you're not going to get very far because different people mean different things when they say 'states,'" Netanyahu said when asked if he was willing to explicitly endorse the two-state solution. "So rather than talk about labels, I'd like to talk about substance."
On Wednesday, after Trump and Netanyahu met on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session in New York, Trump for the first time expressed public and explicit support for the two-state solution. "I like two-state solution. Yeah. That's what I think… that's what I think works best. I don't even have to speak to anybody, that's my feeling... I think two-state solution works best," the U.S. president said at a joint press conference.
Ever since his "Bar Ilan" foreign policy speech in 2009, Netanyahu has refrained, especially in Hebrew, from clarifying his stance on a Palestinian state. He was now forced to explicitly address the possible formation of one.
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When asked by Haaretz whether a Palestinian "state minus," as he defined it, would become a reality during his term, Netanyahu said "I suggest you wait and see. It is important to set what is inadmissible to us: Israel will not relinquish security control west of Jordan. This will not happen so long as I am prime minister and I think the Americans understand that."
Netanyahu noted that he had previously told Trump that "the question is whether the state next to us will be like Costa Rica or like Iran."