Bennett threatens to leave Bibi coalition over peace talks

Naftali Bennett, Jewish Home party leader

Naftali Bennett, Jewish Home party leader

Naftali Bennett, the Jewish Home party leader, has threatened to leave Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government if Israel’s 1967 borders are used as a basis for peace talks.

US Secretary of State John Kerry is today pushing the Palestinians to join the talks, which Israel has already agreed should be based on the 1967 borders, with land swaps that take into account the major settlement blocs.

Mr Bennett said: “Habayit Hayehudi under my leadership will not, even for one second, be part of a government that is party to negotiations based on the 1967 borders. Our capital Jerusalem is not, and never will be, a subject of negotiations.”

A month ago, when asked about the possibility of a Palestinian state, Mr Bennett said: “Never have so many people invested so much energy in something that is hopeless. This land has been ours for 3,000 years. There was never a Palestinian state here and we were never occupiers. The house is ours and we are residents here, not the occupiers.”

Members of Netanyahu’s party, Likud, are also unhappy. Likud MK Miri Regev has said that the negotiations “[are] a mistake that endangers, rather than serves the security of Israel, while negatively impacting the settlers and their endeavours”.

Labour leader Shelly Yachimovich has also contacted Mr Netanyahu, to express her support over the peace talks. She said: “The Israeli and Zionist interest now lies in continuing to realise the vision of a Jewish and democratic state. Anyone supporting this move belongs to the national camp. Anyone who fails to understand this places himself in the camp supporting a bi-national solution.”

Israeli President Shimon Peres has commented that peace talks were "within reach" due to Mr Kerry's input and that “both sides are making a supreme effort to overcome the latest obstacles.”

Last updated: 2:28pm, July 19 2013