Report: Netanyahu’s Coalition Partners Draw Red Lines For Negotiations With Saudi Arabia

Israel's 37th government. (Photo: via Benjamin Netanyahu TW Page)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently held meetings with his coalition partners to discuss a potential normalization deal with Saudi Arabia, Israeli media reported.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz quoted an anonymous participant as saying that the purpose of the meeting was “to prepare the ground for an agreement and verify that Netanyahu can preserve his government as the negotiations with Riyadh and Washington continue.”

According to the source, “no concrete proposals were discussed”. However, “the focus was on sketching the boundaries for future concessions toward the Palestinians”.

Indeed, Saudi Arabia has repeatedly made it clear that Israel would have to make significant concessions to the Palestinians to close a potential agreement.

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Religious Zionism: Smotrich

According to Haaretz, “senior figures in (Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel) Smotrich’s Religious Zionism party made it clear in private conversations that they will flatly reject any normalization that includes the components to create a future Palestinian state.

 “As long as the gestures toward the Palestinians correspond with the Oslo rationale of building a Palestinian state, Netanyahu has no slack here, and we will oppose any such move,” a party source reportedly told Haaretz.

Religious Zionism would oppose any transfer of territories to the Palestinians. “The only thing to be considered is a mutual exchange of territory, (…) and not in strategic areas, such as Khan al-Ahmar for instance,” the source reportedly said.

Religious Zionism would also oppose any halt to the construction of illegal Jewish settlements. 

Religious Zionism is also expected to oppose any freeze on construction in West Bank settlements, such as that ordered by Netanyahu at the request of the Obama administration as part of negotiations with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The far-right party also opposes any interference in Israel’s enforcement against illegal Palestinian construction.

Smotrich, it seems, will agree mostly to economic steps such as the transfer of Saudi funds to rebuild refugee camps, build new commercial centers and support Palestinian economic development.

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Otzma Yehudit: Ben-Gvir

According to Haaretz, people around Israeli National Security minister Itamar  Ben-Gvir “doubt the seriousness of the Saudi demand for significant gestures toward the Palestinians”.

Indeed, Haaretz reported that “members of Netanyahu’s inner circle are more worried by Smotrich and mention it to the prime minister more often.” 

However, Ben-Gvir’s party would equally not agree to significant concessions.

“Otzma Yehudit categorically opposes the evacuation of settlements, including those built illegally on what is clearly private Palestinian land,” Haaretz reported. 

Letter from Likud MKs

welve Likud MKs wrote an open letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, warning him against making any concessions to Saudi Arabia in US-brokered normalization talkS.

The Israeli newspaper The Times of Israel reported that the letter was sent two hours before the meeting between Netanyahu and US President Joe Biden on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

“We will agree to peace only in exchange for peace,” the letter reportedly said, amid reports that Saudi Arabia is demanding major concessions to the Palestinians.

In the letter, the Israeli MKs wrote there can be “no concessions on the homeland.”

“We give you our backing to present a strong position ahead of your meeting with the US president and world leaders that Israel stands by its rights irrespective of attempts to make peace with Arab nations,” the letter also read.

Among the signatories are Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Yuli Edelstein, along with former ambassador to the UN Danny Danon, according to The Times of Israel.

Ahead of Netanyahu-Biden Meeting, Likud MKs Warn against Making Concessions to Saudi Arabia

(The Palestine Chronicle)

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