Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu errs in his support of a Palestinian state, and that misguided support is badly weakening his position within the Likud, Netanyahu’s own deputy foreign minister and Likud colleague Ze’ev Elkin told The Times of Israel.
In an interview at his office in the Foreign Ministry, where he serves as the deputy to acting foreign minister Netanyahu, Elkin said Netanyahu “is going against the flow of his own party. He’s paying a political price day after day, hour after hour, for his belief in a Palestinian state… It’s very hard for him in his party.”
Asked whether this meant Netanyahu would ultimately lose control of the Likud, Elkin said he didn’t know. Pressed, the deputy foreign minister said Netanyahu is “prepared to pay a political price for something he believes is right. I think he’s wrong. We have a real disagreement. But I respect his capacity to say, ‘This is what I believe is right and I’m prepared to pay a political price. I’m leading in this direction because I believe in it.’… Anyone who understands and sees the price he pays politically in his party and on his control of the party because he’s insistent on this [moving ahead with talks with the Palestinians on a two-state solution], knows that it would be foolish for him to do this if he wasn’t serious about it and if he didn’t really think it was right.”
Elkin, who immigrated from the former Soviet Union in 1990, and moved from academia into politics after leading an effort among Russian immigrants to oppose prime minister Ariel Sharon’s disengagement from Gaza, entered the Knesset in 2006 with Kadima but moved to the Likud in the 2009 elections. A resident of Kfar Eldad in the Etzion Bloc south of Jerusalem, Elkin, 42, an Orthodox former Bnei Akiva secretary in the FSU, is a staunch opponent of Palestinian statehood and said that opposition to a Palestinian state was overwhelming in the Likud’s Knesset faction. He said a majority of the government and the coalition opposed a Palestinian state as well.
Asked why Netanyahu had placed known Likud opponents of so central a policy in key government positions – including himself as deputy foreign minister and Danny Danon as deputy defense minister – Elkin said Netanyahu really had little choice. Numerous relatively young Likud politicians who oppose Palestinian statehood had fared well in the Likud party primaries before the last elections, and so they had to be given relatively prestigious jobs. By rights, said Elkin, he ought to have been a minister in the government. When it became clear that there was no room for him, he said, he was offered the deputy ministerial post of his choice, and chose foreign.
Elkin, who made plain he would have opposed the release of pre-Oslo Palestinian prisoners that was approved by the cabinet on Sunday, said he saw little prospect of progress in the resuming peace talks, “not that this saddens me. For 20 years …read more