With less than a day until Israel’s election, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed on Monday that there will be no Palestinian state if he is re-elected tomorrow.
“I think that anyone who moves to establish a Palestinian state today, and evacuate areas, is giving radical Islam an area from which to attack the State of Israel,” Netanyahu said in an interview with the NRG news website, according to The Times of Israel. “This is the true reality that has been created in past years,” the prime minister added, promising to increase construction in East Jerusalem in order to preempt the creation of a Hamas stronghold.
Asked whether there would be no Palestinian state if he were reelected, Netanyahu responded: “Indeed.”
The declaration is a major setback for decades of U.S. diplomacy, which has focused on the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state that would exist alongside Israel. It was long believed that the prime minister, like generations of American and Israeli policymakers, favored an eventual two-state solution to the long-simmering Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
In a 2009 speech, Netanyahu said that “we will be ready in a future peace agreement to reach a solution where a demilitarized Palestinian state exists alongside the Jewish state,” if Palestinians recognize Israel as the legitimate state of the Jewish people and provide other security guarantees.
Netanyahu’s reversal comes as his right-wing Likud Party trails in the polls ahead of the elections Tuesday. In the final round of opinion polls Friday, Netanyahu and Likud were behind Isaac Herzog, leader of the center-left Labor Party, which held a steady lead. The prime minister has been trying to bolster his support by doubling down on his conservative base.