Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 20 September 2019

Israeli far-right minister accuses Trump of planning ‘Palestinian state above our heads’

The attack came from a corner of the Israeli political spectrum that has long celebrated his policies

Israeli Minister of Education and leader of the right-wing party, the 'New Right', Naftali Bennett speaks at a conference during his election campaign in Jerusalem, 12 February 2019. EPA
Israeli Minister of Education and leader of the right-wing party, the 'New Right', Naftali Bennett speaks at a conference during his election campaign in Jerusalem, 12 February 2019. EPA

A far-right Israeli politician has launched a blistering attack on US President Donald Trump over his failure to disclose details of his much-vaunted peace plan for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, accusing him of “planning a Palestinian state right above our heads”.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett called on Mr Trump to reveal his much-anticipated "Deal of the Century" for Middle East peace before the Israeli election on April 9.

Mr Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner says his plan will address all "final status" issues, including borders, and require compromises by all sides.

He made no mention of establishing a Palestinian state and said the plan would focus heavily on offering economic "opportunities" to the Palestinians. Details will be unveiled after the Israeli election, he said, which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called amid a series of corruption allegations.

But Mr Bennett, a hardline rival of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, accused the Israeli leader of conspiring with Mr Kushner to establish a Palestinian state.

He said on Tuesday that Mr Trump is leaving Israelis in the dark before a crucial election and "friends do not keep secrets" from each other.

“We all know the ‘deal of the century’ will be launched right after the Israeli elections, but we, the Israelis, are in the dark about the plan itself,” Mr Bennett said in English-language comments at a Tel Aviv conference.

He said that “everybody is in the picture”, naming regional powers, “everybody but us, the people of Israel”.

His comments can be viewed as an attempt to damage Mr Netanyahu’s credibility among the Israeli electorate ahead of the vote. The minister is trying to win the same votes as Mr Netanyahu after splitting away from the far-right Jewish Home party to set up his own nationalist faction known as the New Right.

Mr Kushner said earlier this week that the deal would focus on “establishing borders and resolving final status issues”.

But the Palestinians have said they will reject any proposal crafted by an administration they say are too closely aligned to the Israelis. Officials in Ramallah have cut all public ties to Washington after Mr Trump relocated the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and cut all American funding to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees.

The Palestinians seek a sovereign state built on the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem as its capital. Mr Kushner also called for a united Palestinian leadership, with the Palestinian Authority exerting limited self-rule in the West Bank under military occupation and Hamas ruling the Gaza Strip amid a crippling Israeli blockade.

Updated: February 27, 2019 04:39 PM

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