Netanyahu: Trump Didn't Give Israel a Diplomatic 'Blank Check' on the Palestinian Issue

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U.S. President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speak to reporters before their meeting at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, May 22, 2017.
U.S. President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speak to reporters before their meeting at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, May 22, 2017.Credit: JONATHAN ERNST/REUTERS

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Likud lawmakers on Monday that the Israeli government "doesn't have a diplomatic blank check" from the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump on everything related to the Palestinian issue.

"Anyone who thinks there's a blank check is mistaken," Netanyahu said. He noted that Trump is determined to reach a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, and in light of that, Israel needs to conduct itself "wisely and responsibly."

Speaking at a Knesset faction meeting, Netanyahu said: "We are a sovereign state [and] can decide a lot of things and make a lot of statements, but when it comes to American consent, I would not go in that direction because it's not correct."

"It's true that there is a warm relationship and there is a great deal of understanding for our fundamental positions, but it's not correct that we have an open check and it's far from reality," the prime minister said.

Netanyahu made his comments after several Knesset members of the ruling party raised the subject of his party’s stance on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Lawmaker Miki Zohar told the prime minister: "Likud is against the establishment of a Palestinian state and the public is against a Palestinian state, so the voice of the prime minister also needs to be heard on the matter."

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said there are many ways to achieve a diplomatic agreement and that Israel must present the U.S. administration with alternatives to the two-state solution.

The prime minister noted at the meeting that Israel should to conduct itself responsibly, particularly now. "You heard President Trump. He came here and did very important things and touched our hearts, but he also said that he believes that Abu Mazen [Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas] wants peace. He said that I want peace, and he said that he believes it is possible to reach agreement and that we need to get there. We are in the middle of this situation," he said.

Netanyahu said he made it clear to Trump that the reason for the absence of a peace agreement is that the Palestinians "are educating their children, generation after generation, that there will be no Israel with borders of one kind or another." 

The prime minister added that as a result, in any future agreement, Israel needs to control security in the West Bank. 

"This is our position and it has been said in the clearest possible way," he stated. "There is still, I would say, categorically, a desire and even an effort to reach an agreement in the faith that the Palestinians are not prepared to forgo their desire to wipe out Israel in stages over time. That's not important. I tell you this because we need to deal with it. I need to deal with it." 

Netanyahu also commented on an additional grant from the U.S. Congress to protect Israel against missile attack. "We received a blank check from the Americans of 300 million shekels, but don't be confused. We have no blank check."

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