End Times News Update
Sign: Covenant With Many (Mideast peace news)
Scripture: Daniel 9:27
News Source: My Way News
Netanyahu promises no Palestinian state if he is re-elected
Mar 16, 4:28 PM (ET)
By JOSEF FEDERMAN
JERUSALEM (AP) — In a frenzied last day of campaigning, Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday ruled out the establishment of a
Palestinian state and vowed to keep building east Jerusalem
settlements as he appealed to hard-line voters on the eve of Israel’s
closely contested general election.
The moderate opposition, meanwhile, announced a dramatic last-minute
machination of its own, removing one of its two joint candidates for
Netanyahu, who has governed for the past six years and has long been
the most dominant personality in Israeli politics, has watched his
standing plummet in recent weeks.
Recent opinion polls show his Likud Party lagging behind Isaac
Herzog’s Zionist Union. Herzog, who has vowed to revive peace efforts
with the Palestinians, repair ties with the U.S. and reduce the
growing gaps between rich and poor, confidently predicted an
“upheaval” was imminent.
Late Monday night, it was announced that Herzog’s main partner, former
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, had given up an agreement to rotate the
prime minister post with him if their alliance wins. It was widely
thought that the unusual arrangement was driving away voters.
Tuesday’s election caps an acrimonious three-month campaign that is
widely seen as a referendum on Netanyahu.
While his comments Monday appeared to be election rhetoric, they
nonetheless put him further at odds with the international community,
boding poorly for already strained relations with the U.S. and other
key allies if he wins a third consecutive term.
The hard-line leader has portrayed himself as the only politician
capable of confronting Israel’s numerous security challenges, while
his opponents have focused on the country’s high cost of living and
presented Netanyahu as imperious and out of touch with the common man.
As Netanyahu’s poll numbers have dropped in recent days, he has
appeared increasingly desperate, stepping up his nationalistic
rhetoric in a series of interviews to local media to appeal to his
core base. Netanyahu has also complained of an international
conspiracy to oust him, funded by wealthy foreigners who dislike him,
and on Sunday night, he addressed an outdoor rally before tens of
thousands of hard-line supporters in Tel Aviv.
The strategy is aimed at siphoning off voters from nationalistic
rivals, but risks alienating centrist voters who are expected to
determine the outcome of the race.
Speaking to the nrg news website, Netanyahu said that turning over
captured territory to the Palestinians would clear the way for Islamic
extremists to take control and attack Israel.
“Whoever ignores that is burying his head in the sand. The left is
doing that, burying its head in the sand time after time,” he said in
the video interview.
When asked if that means a Palestinian state will not be established
if he is elected, Netanyahu replied, “Indeed.”
It was the latest — and clearest — attempt by Netanyahu to disavow his
earlier support for Palestinian independence, which he first laid out
in a landmark 2009 speech.
“If we get this guarantee for demilitarization and necessary security
arrangements for Israel, and if the Palestinians recognize Israel as
the state of the Jewish people, we will be willing in a real peace
agreement to reach a solution of a demilitarized Palestinian state
alongside the Jewish state,” he said at the time.
Despite that pledge, two rounds of peace talks have failed and
Netanyahu has continued to expand Jewish settlements.
Reaching a two-state solution to the Palestinian conflict has been a
top foreign policy priority for President Obama.
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki would only say on Monday
that the U.S. will work with whoever wins the Israeli election.
The international community overwhelmingly supports the establishment
of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza
Strip, areas captured by Israel in 1967, and opposes settlement
construction. Netanyahu’s tough new position is likely to worsen his
already strained ties with his western allies if he is re-elected.
It also raises questions about what kind of vision he has for solving
the conflict with the Palestinians. Most demographers agree that if
Israel continues to control millions of Palestinians, the country will
not be able to remain both Jewish and democratic.
Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi said Netanyahu’s comments were
“dangerous” and could plunge the region into violence.
“This is the real Netanyahu,” she said. “From the beginning, he was
attempting to carry out a grand deception by pretending to be in favor
of the two-state solution. But what he was actually doing on the
ground is destroying the chances of peace.”
Earlier, Netanyahu paid a last-minute visit to Har Homa, a Jewish
development in east Jerusalem that Netanyahu helped build during his
first term as prime minister in 1997. The sprawling district now
houses more than 20,000 residents.
While Israel considers the area a part of its capital, the
international community considers it an illegal settlement on occupied
land. The Palestinians seek east Jerusalem as their capital.
“We will preserve Jerusalem’s unity in all its parts. We will continue
to build and fortify Jerusalem so that its division won’t be possible
and it will stay united forever,” Netanyahu said, explaining that Har
Homa was built to contain Palestinian development in the nearby West
Bank town of Bethlehem.
There was no immediate comment from U.S. officials.
Netanyahu dissolved his government in December and ordered the new
election, two years ahead of schedule, in the belief that he would
cruise to a new term.
On Monday, it was Herzog, Netanyahu’s chief rival, who appeared
confident and upbeat.
Visiting his party headquarters, Herzog, a trained lawyer and scion of
a prominent political family, talked about a “crucial” vote for the
country and warned against splitting the anti-Netanyahu vote among the
various centrist parties.
“Whoever wants an upheaval has to vote for us,” Herzog said.
Yair Lapid, leader of the centrist Yesh Atid party, which has also
focused on the plight of Israel’s middle class, received a warm
welcome at a campaign stop in the coastal city of Netanya. Supporters
warmly embraced him and stopped him to take selfies.
He accused both Netanyahu and Herzog of working outside deals with
special interest groups and said that only he was tackling the real
issues facing the Israeli middle class.
Lapid has so far refused to commit to either Herzog or Netanyahu,
though he is widely seen as a natural ally of Herzog’s in a future
Exit polls are expected immediately after voting stops at 10 p.m.
(2000 GMT) Tuesday night. But the true victor may not be known for
Under Israel’s electoral system, no party has ever won an outright
majority in the 120-member parliament. Instead, the party with the
best chance of forming a coalition — usually the largest party — is
given the chance to form a coalition. That decision is taken by the
country’s president, Reuven Rivlin.
Since neither Likud nor the Zionist Union is expected to earn more
than a quarter of the votes, Rivlin will meet with party leaders to
determine who should be prime minister, followed by a lengthy period
of negotiations to assemble a coalition.
A potential kingmaker could be found in the new centrist party of
Moshe Kahlon, who is running on an economic platform that deals almost
exclusively with bread-and-butter issues while putting Israel’s
diplomatic challenges on the back burner.
Kahlon, who broke off from Netanyahu’s Likud, is demanding to become
finance minister in the next government and has given no indication as
to whom he would prefer as prime minister.
The son of Libyan immigrants, Kahlon is popular with working class
Israelis, thanks to his Middle Eastern background, his modest
upbringing and for reforming the local mobile-phone market.
Source: My Way News