Is Prime Minister Netanyahu set to recognize a future Palestinian state? Likud members are asking themselves that very question as the date of the premier's policy speech nears.
Netanyahu met with several prominent Likud MKs on Wednesday evening, ahead of his planned address
at Bar Ilan University this coming Sunday.
"The country's future faces enormous challenges from several directions, and we must act to ensure Israel's existence as a Jewish nation for generations upon generations to come. This is not only my responsibility but all of ours," Netanyahu told the assembled Likud members, adding that Israel was under threat and therefore would have to "put things in balance."
At the meeting were MKs Tzipi Hotovely, Danny Danon, Ofir Akonis and Miri Regev. The MKs told Netanyahu that they object to the use of the term 'two states for two peoples' and the establishment of a Palestinian state.
Although they told the prime minister that they supported him, they also said that the Likud was elected on a different platform that Kadima's. The MKs told Netanyahu that President Shimon Peres and Defense Minister Ehud Barak both speak in terms of two states. The prime minister rejected the implication that either spoke for him.
"So far we've only given and gotten nothing in return," the MKs said, citing the various concessions Israel has made to the Palestinian Authority. Netanyahu responded, telling the MKs that the situation was complex and asking them – "And what's your alternative?"
MK Danon, on his part, said he was in favor of the Palestinian Authority having autonomy "but not a state."
Mubarak: Netanyahu will accept 2-states
Earlier in the day Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said that Netanyahu would accept the two-state solution. "Israel will agree to the two-state solution," Mubarak said in an interview with Egyptian media after a telephone conversation with the Israeli prime minister.
"I spoke with Netanyahu and told him there was no other option. Ultimately the solution will be one of two states – the State of Israel alongside an Arab state." Mubarak said that Netanyahu did not counter his assertion.
Meanwhile Likud Minister Benny Begin also weighed in on Wednesday, rejected the two-state solution and saying the Palestinians will never accept Israel as a Jewish nation.
Begin said he believed the Palestinians' two-stage plan was comprised of "two states on the path to one state – Palestine".
"The reality of the past 15 years is territory for terror, not peace," the minister told a conference of Likud Party founders in Tel Aviv. He said this included "territories ceded following agreements and territories withdrawn from unilaterally."