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Netanyahu prefers an uninvolved Trump

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hopes that President-elect Donald Trump won’t invest his energies in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem November 13, 2016. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun - RTX2TEZ9
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It stands to reason that President-elect Donald Trump’s staff members tasked with formulating his administration’s foreign policy are monitoring the issues with which the State Department currently concerns itself. One can assume, too, that they did not miss the department’s Nov. 14 statement in response to the decision by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government to approve proposed legislation retroactively legalizing illegal outposts in the West Bank (by means of advancing in the Knesset the “regularization law’’). The statement said the Barack Obama administration was “deeply concerned” about the approval of the proposed legislation, which contradicts international law and paves the way for the legalization of dozens of illegal outposts deep in the West Bank. Spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau threw the ball into Israel’s court, saying it had to choose between the desire to build more settlements or to preserve “the possibility of peace” by promoting a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The answer of the ministers who voted in favor of the controversial bill is completely clear: They would rather build more and more settlements. They never supported the two-state solution, but unlike Netanyahu, who claimed to support it but did all in his power to undermine it — mostly by encouraging the settlement enterprise — they practice what they preach. They have not missed a single opportunity to express their decisive opposition to the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank. Knowing that most of his ruling coalition members, and even most of his Likud Knesset faction, are unwilling to even hear the combination of the two words “Palestinian state,” Netanyahu has over the years avoided putting the two-state solution to a political party test. He never brought up the principles that he laid out in his 2009 Bar-Ilan speech — i.e., the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel — for a vote by his party, government or Knesset. Instead, he rolled the ball into the Palestinian court and claimed that President Mahmoud Abbas’ refusal to recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish nation was the real obstacle to peace.

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