JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s Knesset speaker said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu does not believe in a two-state solution.
Reuven Rivlin also said during a visit to the West Bank town of Eli that Netanyahu wants to arrive at a peace agreement with the Palestinians, but not one that involves two states for two peoples.
"I think the term ‘natural growth’ is apologetic rather than a principled stance," Rivlin told Eli residents. "We live in these areas based on belief in the righteousness of our way and also because we view these areas as a security belt for the State of Israel."
Rivlin made his remarks just days before Netanyahu is set to deliver a major policy speech during a conference at Bar-Ilan University. The prime minister met with party leaders Wednesday to hear their views on the upcoming speech.
Also Wednesday, Likud minister Benny Begin came out against the formation of a Palestinian state during a speech at Likud Party headquarters.
"If the only solution is two states for two peoples, then there is no solution," Begin said, adding that the Palestinians want a "two-stage solution at the end of which there would be a single PLO-Hamas state."