A former settler leader seen by some as a future Israeli prime minister has outlined his plans for a one-state solution in which Palestinians have autonomy within the West Bank but live under permanent Israeli sovereignty.
Education Minister Naftali Bennett, the leader of the Jewish Home party who once worked closely with current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, advanced his ideas in an interview with BICOM journal Fathom this week.
Bennett, a former elite Israeli soldier and director-general of the Yesha Council who made millionaires as a high-tech entrepreneur, reiterated the one-state pitch he made in 2013, when he said: “There will never be a peace plan with the Palestinians.”
In the Fathom interview, the ambitious 45-year old still appeared to favour the annexation of the West Bank, letting Arab cities like Ramallah, Nablus and Jenin by self-governing, but under Israeli sovereignty.
Bennett told Fathom that a Palestinian state “would guarantee 200 years of misery for the two peoples,” and that his “stability plan” would let Palestinians “elect themselves, pay their taxes and control those areas that are theirs”.
Describing it as Palestinian “autonomy on steroids” he added: “I’m open to ideas about how this materialises. It could be a confederation with Jordan, or local municipalities, or a central government.”
Before he was elected to the Israeli Parliament, Bennett said he would “do everything in my power to make sure they [Palestinians] never get a state,” and this week dismissed the international community’s near-consensus on the issue.
He also acknowledged that Israel had moved considerably to the right in recent years, and that the political shift “isn’t due to ideology but rather to reality”.
He said: “As a child in the 1980s we had peace songs on the radio and in kindergartens and the Israeli public was conditioned to love and believe in peace.
“Yet in the last elections the word peace was taboo – not because the parties and public don’t desire it, but rather because we came to understand – the hard way – that desiring peace sometimes brings about the opposite.”