The Slatest

One Day Before Election, Netanyahu Disavows Support for Palestinian State

Netanyahu speaks at an East Jerusalem settlement Monday.

Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he will not acquiesce to the creation of a Palestinian state if he wins Tuesday’s Israeli election, in a late-breaking disavowal of his 2009 speech supporting the “two-state solution.” The hawkish announcement is seen as an attempt to win support from hard-liners before the election, which some polls have projected that he will lose. From Haaretz:

Netanyahu’s remarks in an interview with the NRG website - which is owned by casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and tied with the settler newspaper Makor Rishon - were a last-minute attempt to pull right-wing voters away from Habayit Hayehudi.

“I think that anyone who moves to establish a Palestinian state and evacuate territory gives territory away to radical Islamist attacks against Israel,” Netanyahu said. The left has buried its head in the sand time and after time and ignores this, but we are realistic and understand.”

Netanyahu also acknowledged for the first time today that he had, during his term as prime minister in the 1990s, approved an Israeli settlement in East Jerusalem in order to intentionally cut off the possibility that Palestinian-dominated neighborhoods could stretch contiguously from Jerusalem to Bethlehem. From the New York Times:

Mr. Netanyahu said he had authorized that construction during his first term to block Palestinians from expanding Bethlehem, and to prevent a “Hamastan” from sprouting in the hills nearby.

Mr. Netanyahu stood next to maps of Har Homa, one from 1997 that showed its empty hillsides, and one showing its roughly 4,000 apartments today. A further 2,000 are under construction or planned.

“It was a way of stopping Bethlehem from moving toward Jerusalem,” Mr. Netanyahu said of his approval of Har Homa, against the United States’s wishes, in 1997.

The prime minister, the Times says, also played up the settlement as a means to ease the price of housing in Israel; cost-of-living and economic issues have been prominent in chief opponent Isaac Herzog’s campaign against him.