Author: Bethan McKernan
Posted: November 9, 2016
An Israeli government minister has provoked outrage by suggesting the result of the US general election will lead to the end of international political will for a Palestinian state.
“Trump’s victory is an opportunity for Israel to immediately retract the notion of a Palestinian state in the centre of the country, which would hurt our security and just cause,” Naftali Bennett, the Minister of Education, said in a press release on Wednesday morning.
“This is the position of the President-elect, as written in his platform, and it should be our policy, plain and simple. The era of a Palestinian state is over.”
The Israeli government has officially been working towards a two-state solution to the intractable Israeli-Arab conflict for years, although resistance from the militant Hamas movement that rules the Gaza Strip and continued disagreement over Israeli settlement building in the West Bank has hindered recent attempts at peace talks.
Mr Bennett expressed his congratulations to Donald Trump and gratitude to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton for her “friendship with Israel”.
Both candidates had broadly said that if elected they would continue in the line of current US policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which by and large advocates for a two-state solution, although an advisor to Mr Trump said in October that the candidate is “sceptical” of the efficacy of a two-state solution.
In a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in New York in September, Mr Trump said he would take the unusual step of recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a statement which angered Palestinians, who also claim the city as their own.
Mr Bennett – the child of American immigrants to Israel – has led the country’s right-wing religious The Jewish Home party since 2012. He was appointed to Mr Netanyahu’s coalition government as education minister last year.
He is in favour of a “tripartite” solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, in which the Palestinian territories are annexed by the state of Israel but governed by the Palestinian Authority, and the Gaza Strip handed over to the supervision of Egypt.
Mr Netanyahu also congratulated Mr Trump on his election win, calling him “a true friend of the state of Israel” with whom he “looks forward to working with… to advance security, stability and peace in our region”.
The Independent has contacted the Israeli Ministry of Education for comment.