A pending peace proposal from the US-sponsored peace talks appears to helped a spark a revolt among Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing ruling coalition partners.
With reports of an imminent ‘framework proposal’ from Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, ultra-nationalist Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett – who advocates annexing large parts of the West Bank – is causing waves.
“Neither our forefathers nor our descendants will forgive the Israeli leader who gives away our land and divides our capital,” said the settler leader on Wednesday.
Another senior member of Jewish Home, Housing Minister Uri Ariel, said he was mediating “a crisis” between Netanyahu and Bennett, with the latter an Orthodox Jew who emphasises a biblical connection to the West Bank and Jerusalem.
News of the spat comes as several unconfirmed reports reveal the basis of any agreement, including a phased Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and unprecedented security arrangements in the strategic Jordan Valley. The pullout would not include certain settlement blocs but Israel will offer Israeli territory to the Palestinians in compensation.
The proposal further envisages the Palestinians having their capital in East Jerusalem and recognising Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people. It will not include any right of return for Palestinian refugees to Israel.
On Saturday, an aide to Netanyahu said the Israeli leader would insist Jewish settlers have a right to remain under Palestinian rule in any future peace deal, but Bennett reacted angrily, demanding the PM “immediately refute this dangerous proposal”.
Bad blood between Bennett, who once served as a senior Netanyahu aide, is nothing new. The main opposition Labour Party has said it would be prepared to replace Jewish Home in the coalition to prevent its collapse over peace issues.
The coalition controls 68 of parliament’s 120 seats, of which Jewish Home holds 12 and Labour 15.