Coalition partner assails Netanyahu statement on settlers in Palestinian state


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu must refute his proposal that Jewish settlers should be allowed to remain in their homes in a Palestinian state, a member of the Israeli government coalition said.

Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett, who serves as economy minister in Netanyahu’s government, on Sunday called the idea “very dangerous” and said it “reflects an irrationality of values.”

The Prime Minister’s Office on Sunday told foreign news agencies and the Times of Israel that Netanyahu will not force settlers to leave a Palestinian state, even under a permanent peace deal.

The statement, clarifying remarks that Netanyahu made two days earlier in Davos, Switzerland, said Netanyahu believes there can be a Jewish minority in the Palestinian state, just as there is an Arab minority in the Jewish state.

Bennett in a statement also published on his Facebook page said, “We did not return to the land of Israel after two thousand years of longing to live under the government of Mahmoud Abbas. Whoever advocates for the idea of Jewish life in Israel under Palestinian rule is undermining our ability to sit in Tel Aviv.”

In Davos, following a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on the sidelines of the Economic Forum, Netanyahu said, “I do not intend to evacuate any settlements or uproot a single Israeli.”

Netanyahu and Kerry reportedly met three times in Davos. In his address to the forum, Kerry said he will soon present a framework agreement for the negotiations “that will define the endgame and all the core issues, and provide guidelines for the negotiators in their efforts to achieve a final-status peace agreement.”

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