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Why Netanyahu won't abandon two-state solution

Although Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has done nothing to advance a two-state solution, his repeated assertions in support of it have nonetheless shifted thinking in the Likud Party.
U.S. President Donald Trump (2ndR) and first lady Melania Trump greet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara (L) as they arrive at the South Portico of the White House in Washington, U.S., February 15, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque  - RTSYTO4
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took off for Washington Feb. 13 for his first official meeting with President Donald Trump. Meanwhile, back in the Knesset, the Likud faction's chamber was packed with people attending the conference “Renouncing the Two-State Solution.” Particularly conspicuous among the assembly of Knesset members and heads of local and regional authorities were several Likud ministers, including Gilad Erdan, Ofir Akunis, Gila Gamliel and even the Speaker of the Knesset Yuli Edelstein. All in all, about half of the party's Knesset faction attended the event, sponsored by the Nationalist Staff of the Likud, a faction identified with the settler movement. The turnout was especially impressive considering that most of the attendees do not bother to attend weekly party meetings with the prime minister.

While it may have been important for them to demand that Netanyahu renounce the idea of a two-state solution, what these Knesset members and ministers wanted most was to score political points with the party's hard right. Netanyahu had only been informed about the event the day before it took place. In that space of time, he also heard the chairman of HaBayit HaYehudi, Naftali Bennett, demand that the two-state solution be buried. Nevertheless, as Netanyahu stood on the ramp to his plane, he declared, “I will lead, and I will navigate. That's exactly what I plan on doing, leading and navigating the historic alliance between Israel and the United States so that it benefits Israel's national interests and the Israeli people.”

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