Netanyahu rejects Palestinian state but says PA 'needed by Israel': report

Netanyahu rejects Palestinian state but says PA 'needed by Israel': report
3 min read
26 June, 2023
Israel has no interest in seeing the Palestinian Authority collapse but outright refuses an independent Palestinian state, Benjamin Netanyahu told Israeli lawmakers.
Netanyahu (R) said Israel was preparing for an era after Abbas (L) [Getty/archive]

Israel has no interest in seeing the Palestinian Authority collapse but will curb any Palestinian hopes for an independent state, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanayhu has said.

Netanyahu spoke in a closed door meeting about his government's preparations for a post-Mahmoud Abbas era, the Israeli Kan radio station reported Monday.

Abbas, who is now 87, has been active on the Palestinian political scene since the 1960s and has been president of the Palestinian Authority since 2005. 

Netanyahu’s remarks came in response to a question asked by Israeli parliament members about Israel’s relationship with the PA, during a session held recently for the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Security Committee.

"We are preparing for the period after Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas]. We need the Palestinian Authority. We must not allow it to collapse, and we do not want it to collapse. We are ready to help it economically," Netanyahu said during the parliamentary committee meeting, according to Kan.

"We have an interest in the authority continuing its work. The areas in which it functions, it does the work for us. We have no interest in it collapsing."

Elections for the Palestinian presidency have been repeatedly postponed amid a long-running split between the Fatah-led, Ramallah based Palestinian Authority headed by Abbas and a Gaza-based rival government led by Hamas.

Previous presidential elections were scheduled for July 2021 but were subsequently postponed on the grounds that Israel would not allow Palestinians in East Jerusalem to take part.

Regarding the Palestinian goal to establish a sovereign state, Netanyahu was firm in his rejection, according to Kan.

"Their ambitions for the establishment of a state must be eliminated," he said.

Palestinians have long sought to establish a viable and independent state in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank and besieged Gaza Strip, but this has proved impossible as Israel refuses to withdraw from the West Bank or East Jerusalem and continues to expand settlements in these areas.

The 1993 Oslo Accords between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), which Abbas also chairs, were theoretically supposed to lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state, but negotiations between Palestinians and Israel have broken down.

Israel has since March 2022 launched deadly raids on Palestinian towns and cities in the West Bank and these have intensified since Netanyahu came to power at the head of a far-right Israeli government in December 2022.

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More than 180 Palestinians have been killed in the raids since the beginning of the year

In response, the PA has repeatedly threatened to stop coordinating with Israel on security matters.

Pressure by Israel has also grown on the PA to arrest wanted individuals, including Palestinian fighters who have fiercely resisted Israeli incursions into the occupied West Bank.

Their presence has led to the PA's authority being challenged particularly in the north of the West Bank.