17 Mar 2015

Netanyahu vows no Palestinian state

5:59 pm on 17 March 2015

The Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, says he will not allow the creation of a Palestinian state if he is re-elected in Tuesday's vote.

Benjamin Netanyahu

Benjamin Netanyahu Photo: AFP

He was attempting to shore up support with polls putting his Likud party just behind the centre-left opposition alliance, the Zionist Union.

The centre-left alliance has promised to repair ties with the Palestinians and the international community.

Neither side is expected to win more than a quarter of the votes.

Mr Netanyahu said that ceding lands to the Palestinians would risk leaving Israel open to attacks by Islamists.

"Whoever ignores that is burying his head in the sand. The left is doing that, burying its head in the sand time after time,'' he told NRG.

When asked if that meant a Palestinian state would not be established if he was elected, Netanyahu replied "indeed".

In 2009, he backed the idea of a Palestinian state, on the condition that it was demilitarised and that the Palestinians recognised Israel.

Opinion polls published before the weekend suggest that the centre-left Zionist Union is likely to win the most seats.

Correspondents say the election is likely to be followed by a lengthy period of negotiations over the formation of the next coalition government.

Mr Netanyahu has consistently accused his centre-left challengers of being willing to relinquish Israel's claim to Jerusalem as its indivisible capital in peace talks with the Palestinians.

Also on Monday, Mr Netanyahu spoke at a settlement in East Jerusalem and said he was the only person who could ensure the city's security.

Palestinians seek East Jerusalem - occupied by Israel since the 1967 Middle East war - as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

Zionist Union party co-leader Yitzhak Herzog, visiting the Western Wall on Sunday, one of the holiest sites in Judaism, pledged to "safeguard Jerusalem and its residents in actions, not just words, more than any other leader".

It has been announced that Mr Herzog's co-leader, Tzipi Livni, has given up an agreement to rotate the post of prime minister with him should they win power.

Indications are that whichever party performs best, they could need the support of new centrist party Kulanu in order to build a coalition, though its leader, Moshe Kahlon, has not yet said who he will back.