Pressure mounts on Bennett to rebuff Biden’s push for Palestinian state

Bennett and Biden will most likely discuss Washington’s controversial proposal to open a separate Palestinian Consulate in Jerusalem.

By Donna Rachel Edmunds, World Israel News

As Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett prepares to fly to Washington to meet U.S. President Joe Biden, members of his government and the Knesset are already warning that discussion of the two-state solution must not be on the table.

Two key topics are likely to be foremost on the premiers’ agenda in their meeting this Thursday: Iran’s nuclear ambitions, and Washington’s controversial proposal to open a separate Palestinian Consulate on Agron Street in Jerusalem, which has been within sovereign Israeli territory since 1949.

The move reverses the merger under the Trump administration of the U.S. consulate for Palestinians into the U.S. Embassy to Israel, which took place when the Embassy was moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

However, the proposed is being viewed as a signal that the Biden administration ultimately envisions a divided Jerusalem serving as the capital to both Israel and Palestine within a two-state solution.

Bennett is already coming under fire by opposition MKs for his willingness to discuss the matter with Biden. As Israeli permission would be required for such a move, he is expected to come under pressure to agree to the measure.

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But Likud Knesset member Nir Barkat told JNS that it was clear Washington’s goal with the policy is to establish facts on the ground” and “to promote the establishment of Palestine with Jerusalem as its capital.”

“This is a goal Israel cannot agree to,” Barkat warned. “There is no other capital city in the world where the Americans have opened two embassies. After all, there is an American embassy in Jerusalem, and it can provide consular services to anyone who needs it.”

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked denied that a two-state solution was on the table while Bennett was at the helm of the Israeli government, according to Arutz Sheva.

When asked Sunday morning what Bennett would say to Biden if the issue arose during the meeting, she responded: “He will answer that he is against a two-state solution. Our position is known, it was decided when this government was formed not to deal with this issue. Biden is also aware of the prime minister’s views.”

Her comments came in response to those made by Foreign Minister Yair Lapid on Friday during an interview with Israel’s Channel 11. While reiterating that movement toward a two-state solution under Bennett was not a possibility, when asked whether it might be when he took the reins as Prime Minister under the rotation agreement in 2023, he responded “it might be”.

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Shaked warned: “If it happens, he will not have a government,” noting that the Yamina party would not be part of Lapid’s future government if he advances the issue of Palestinian statehood.