By Lahav Harkov, JPost—
Israel will not negotiate with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas while Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is in office, a diplomatic source said on Wednesday.
Bennett is in Washington for a series of high-level meetings, culminating with one in the White House with US President Joe Biden, in which he plans to focus on the Iranian threat.
The prime minister seeks to reach shared principles on countering Iran with Biden – preferably with a public statement – such as never letting Iran attain a nuclear weapon instead of just “not on my watch,” as Biden has said in the past.
Bennett’s goal for his meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, set to take place after press time, was “for the Americans to understand that the prime minister’s line is to preserve stability, without taking reality-changing steps,” according to the source, a member of Bennett’s entourage in Washington.
The current political situation precludes Bennett from taking major steps on the Palestinian front. Since his Yamina Party and the other right-wing coalition partners oppose a Palestinian state, while Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and the political parties to his Left support a two-state solution, they have all agreed to mostly preserving the status quo.
When it comes to settlements, the source referred to Bennett’s statement in an interview with The New York Times that “there will not be a building freeze, but there also will not be annexation.”
Asked about Bennett’s remark in that same interview that only “natural growth” will be allowed in settlements, the source said that the prime minister wants to “preserve the current situation.”
However, “natural growth” refers to construction only for people who already live in Judea and Samaria – such as new schools or homes for newly-married couples who grew up in the area – while the situation in recent years included limited construction beyond that. Continue Reading…