Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Tel Aviv will not give away any occupied land to Palestinians, rejecting the idea of Palestinian statehood.
In a Sunday statement released by his right-wing Likud party, Netanyahu said that a speech he gave in 2009, endorsing a Palestinian statehood as a solution to decades of conflict, was now “irrelevant.”
“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that [in light of] the situation that has arisen in the Middle East, any evacuated territory would fall into the hands of Islamic extremism and terror organizations supported by Iran. Therefore, there will be no concessions or withdrawals; they are simply irrelevant,” the statement read.
Later on Sunday, Netanyahu's office said in response that the prime minister made no comment to that effect.
“Prime Minister Netanyahu has made clear for years that given the current conditions in the Middle East, any territory that is given will be seized by radical Islam just like what happened [in] Gaza and in southern Lebanon,” Netanyahu’s office said.
However, Netanyahu has repeatedly said he would not run the risk of handing over land that might fall into the hands of the resistance movement.
Palestinian official Saeb Erekat (shown above) said Netanyahu was using regional strifes as an excuse, saying, “Today Netanyahu revealed his true face.”
“Since 1993, he worked hard for the destruction of the option of peace and the option of a two-state solution,” the Palestinian chief negotiator added.
In the past few months, the Palestinian national unity government has been pushing for a UN resolution that determines the borders of the future Palestinian state based on the pre-1967 lines. Israel has expressed outcries over the motion. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says there will be no negotiations over land with Israel as Palestinians will not give up even an inch of their land.
In 1967, Israel occupied the West Bank, East al-Quds (Jerusalem), and the Gaza Strip but withdrew from the enclave in 2005. Palestinians are seeking to create an independent state on the territories of the West Bank, East al-Quds and the Gaza Strip. Tel Aviv, however, has refused to return to the 1967 borders and is unwilling to discuss the issue of East al-Quds.