Bennett said Israel should look to improve Palestinian economy, remove checkpoints on West Bank roads, reintegrate the Palestinians into Israeli workforce and, ’if conditions allow, even to remove the separation wall.’
By Barak Ravid and Jonathan Lis
In a meeting Wednesday with the Norwegian foreign minister, Habayit Hayehudi chairman Naftali Bennett said his political ally, Finance Minister Yair Lapid, was, like himself, “not too crazy about the two-state solution” and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.
The industry, trade and labor minister told Norway’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Espen Barth Eide, that he supported the removal of the West Bank separation barrier.
Before meeting with Bennett, Eide met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who affirmed his commitment to his own “Bar-Ilan speech” of 2009 and the two-state principle, and said he wanted to renew the negotiations with the Palestinians soon.
However, when he met with Bennett, Eide heard messages that were 180 degrees apart from the official Israeli stance on the peace process, as reiterated by Netanyahu. According to a senior Israeli official knowledgeable about the discussion between Bennett and Eide, Bennett spoke out harshly against the idea of a Palestinian state being established between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.