(JTA) – Naftali Bennett, head of the pro-settler Jewish Home party and Israel’s education minister, doubled down on his opposition to a Palestinian state, saying he is prepared to bring down the government in order to prevent one.
In an interview with Israel’s Channel 2, sections of which aired Thursday, Bennett said his party is the only one committed to opposing a Palestinian state, and that as long as his party is in the governing coalition, “a Palestinian state will not be established … and Jerusalem will not be divided.”
“If we are talking about a return to the 1967 lines and the division of Jerusalem, I won’t just resign from the government, I’ll topple it,” he added, referring to Israel’s borders before the Six-Day War.
Bennett apparently was reacting to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s partial endorsement of the Arab Peace Initiative earlier this week. In addition, Avigdor Liberman, the new defense minister from the right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu party, also said this week that “national unity” is more important than holding on to territory.
With eight seats in the Knesset, Jewish Home has the power to bring down the government as it stands now. However, efforts reportedly are underway to bring the 25-seat Zionist Union, which supports a two-state solution, into the coalition. Talks between Netanyahu’s Likud and the left-wing Zionist Union’s leader, Isaac Herzog, failed last month after Yisrael Beiteinu was brought into the coalition.
However, Haaretz reported Thursday that the Zionist Union’s co-leader, Tzipi Livni, is being courted in an effort to win her support for a deal.