As he tries to balance the demands of the international community and those posed by his coalition regarding the Palestinian track, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu might have hoped to at least enjoy the support of his own party.
This was not the case on Tuesday. Under the banner of 'Alternatives to the Two-State Approach,' MKs from the Likud and other factions gathered in the early afternoon to discuss the current situation and express their objection to what they see as Netanyahu's decision to veer from the right-wing political line. The Likud MKs in particular were keen to warn Netanyahu that this may lead to the establishment of a new group of 'rebels' within the party.
Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya'alon: "Progress in the negotiations with the Palestinians must hinge on their recognition of our right to a national Jewish home and on the Palestinian Authority's ability to control the territory. It is not this government's policy or this country's interest to rule over the Palestinians, but just as you start building a house from the foundations and not the roof, they must enact reforms 'from the ground up.'"
Ya'alon made clear that he does not see the establishment of a Palestinian state as a feasible option. "I don't see a chance for the existence of a viable entity in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) or the Gaza Strip that would be economically independent. The economic gap between Israel as a first world country and a third world Palestinian entity is a recipe for disaster. The probability of the entity becoming hostile is very high."
"We have to free ourselves from this failed approach and its erroneous premise in order to allow for new patterns of thought," the former chief of staff added.
"In handling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict we should not apply terms like 'solution' in the foreseeable future, rather the terms should be 'crisis management' or coping in the long-term. This strategy should maintain and strengthen (our) interests while managing the conflict, and working towards stabilization in the distant future."
Ya'alon stressed that those attending the conference were not trying to rebel against the prime minister. However even prior to Netanyahu's trip to the United States earlier this month there were voices within Likud warning the prime minister that party unity was not guaranteed.
Interior Minister Eli Yishai, who also attended the conference, praised Netanyahu for withstanding the American pressure. "There was no round of applause," he said, referring to the tepid response Netanyahu received from US lawmakers, "that means that the prime minister didn't yield.
"After every visit by an Israeli prime minister that they applauded – we ceded assets. I am willing to give up the embraces and keep the assets. We keep trying to get the Americans to like us when we should be sticking to what we know to be true.