"Israel has officially declared the death of the two-state solution," chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said Monday in response to Economy Minister Naftali Bennett's claim that the two-state solution had reached a "dead end."
Erekat said Bennett's comments marked a new Israeli attempt to undermine any settlement on pre-1967 Middle East war borders.
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"Several high-ranking Israeli officials have made clear statements regarding their position to actively work against the internationally endorsed two-state solution on the 1967 borders," Erekat said.
"These are not isolated events but a reaffirmation of political platforms and radical beliefs," he said in a statement. "Israel has officially declared the death of the two-state solution."
Erekat blamed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for matching such statements in policy, and said the "Israeli government is determined to make (US Secretary of State) Kerry's efforts fail."
"The Israeli government is prepared to wage a public relations campaign, but it is not serious about peace," Erekat said.
'We need to build, build, build.' Bennett (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
Nabil Abu Rudeina, spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, urged the Israeli government to "clarify its position on the economy minister's statements".
"These statements are not only a message to the administration of US President Barack Obama who made constant efforts to revive the peace process, but also a challenge and clear rejection of all efforts to try and save what can be," the Palestinian WAFA news agency quoted him as saying.
Earlier Monday, Bennett said with regards to the two-state solution that "never has so much time been invested in something so pointless. We need to build, build, build. If the money spent on caviar in cocktail parties dealing with the idea of a Palestinian state would have been used for building interchanges (in the territories) – everything would be different."
Speaking at a Yesha Council meeting in Jerusalem, Bennett added, "There has never been a Palestinian state here. We need to change our conception and say we're here because it's our home. We need to start thinking about how we conduct ourselves from now on, with that concept behind us."
Bennett was echoing statements recently made by Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon.
Last week, Danon said that Israel's government will oppose the two-state solution and do everything in its power to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state.
Bennett's comments were criticized in Israel as well. Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid faction issued a statement saying it was "committed to the two-state solution and calls for the immediate resumption of diplomatic negotiations."
Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who is also the chairwoman of Hatnua, said her party's job is to "safeguard the Jewish home. Not the Jewish Home party (Bennett's faction), but the country. And in order to protect the country and its values we must reach an agreement."
Former US President Bill Clinton, whose speech in Rehovot kicked off President Peres' 90th birthday celebrations on Monday, said he did not see an alternative to the establishment of a Palestinian state
AFP contributed to the report
You can contact Elior Levy, Ynet's Palestinian Affairs Correspondent, at: email@example.com
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