“First they don’t apply sovereignty, now they are saying we should apply sovereignty. It [their criticism] isn’t serious.”
“We have to replace him. He has finished his career. We have to tell him ‘Mr. Prime Minister” thank you for all the good years, you have lost it, let someone else led the State of Israel forward.’ There are enough people in the Likud who can do this,” Yesha Council head and Jordan Valley Regional Council head David Elhayani told The Jerusalem Post.
He estimated that many in the Likud agreed with him, but were afraid to speak.
“I will do everything to ensure that he is not elected,” said Elhayani, who is a Likud member and who actively campaigned for Netanyahu during the last elections, including standing with him at rallies.
Just last week, he still insisted that Netanyahu was the best person to lead the country, but that changed once it was announced that sovereignty would be suspended as part of Israel’s deal for normalized Israeli-UAE ties.
Elhayani and Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan had been long-standing supporters of Netanyahu, throwing their weight behind him particularly given his pledge to apply sovereignty to West Bank settlements.
After US President Donald Trump unveiled his peace plan in January, they rejected the document because it called for a two-state solution, and provided for a Palestinian state on 70% of the West Bank.
They asked Netanyahu to apply sovereignty to the settlements outside the context of the plan, with Elhayani event stating that if sovereignty was the price for the creation of a Palestinian state, he would give it up.
It was a line that came back to haunt him on Sunday, when Netanyahu alluded to settler criticism in an interview with Army Radio.
In response to a question about settler leadership claims that Netanyahu has ruined any change for West Bank annexation, the prime minister retorted, “First they don’t apply sovereignty, now they are saying we should apply sovereignty. It [their criticism] isn’t serious.”
Elhayani was outraged, “We never said we didn’t want sovereignty,” he said, explaining that they had wanted sovereignty. “We said we wanted sovereignty.”
Netanyahu was the one, he said, who had promised them that there would not be a Palestinian state, and then pledged to Trump he would support such a state.
“Who is the liar here? Who has an interest in lying?” he said.
“This is not the same Netanyahu that traveled to the US Congress in 2015 to argue against the Iran deal,” Elhayani said.
Netanyahu “has become confused. He thinks he is the government of the 52nd state and that Trump is his president. He is the prime minister of Israel,” Elhayani said.
Netanyahu insisted on Sunday, in a wide series of comments, that he had not given up on the application of sovereignty over West Bank settlements. He stressed that he intended to push forward with the plan, even though Trump and special adviser Jared Kushner have bluntly stated that the issue is suspended.
The Americans asked for a delay due to the Israel-UAE deal, Netanyahu said, but “it has not been taken out of Trump’s [peace] plan,” Netanyahu told Army Radio.
Dagan, who wields power in the Likud part, accused Netanyahu of adopting the Left’s rhetoric of blaming the settlers for everything.
“The prime minister who is now attacking us is the same one who chased after us before the election and used us to convey the message that brought him victory: full sovereignty over all the communities in Judea and Samaria,” Dagan said.
At issue for the settlers is not just their deep belief that annexation will not happen, but that the chances for a Palestinian state have increased.
Netanyahu “used us” and “dumped us,” Dagan said.
“Lovers of the Land of Israel are shocked by the enormity of the betrayal” and the return to “the left-wing formula of land for peace.”
He warned Netanyahu, “you are a step away from completely losing the trust of the national camp,” which “will not allow this act of fraud to pass in silence.”
Among the statements that have concerned Elhayani, Dagan and right-wing politicians, are those such as the one Kushner made about Palestinian statehood.
On Friday, Kushner told Fox News, “The prime minister is a historic leader, he is a visionary, who was able to agree to a two-state solution with the Palestinians on the basis of President Trump’s vision for peace and it’s the first time we have ever had a map.
“We were talking about how we can implement this plan, by implementing the plan we would be saving the two-state solution not destroy it,” Kushner said.
On Monday in the Knesset, settler leaders and the Land of Israel Caucus plan to hold a meeting, as part of the first salvo against what they fear could be the Israeli withdrawal from territory.
Parliamentarians from the Likud, Yamina and Shas plan to gather to discuss an initiative by MK Zvi Hauser (Derech Eretz) to protect the 130 Israeli settlements. Hauser is pushing to advance a bill to expand the scope of the territorial referendum law to include the 130 settlements. If his bill was passed into law, that territory could only be relinquished through a referendum or the approval of 80 parliamentarians.