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No Palestinian state if elected, says Netanyahu, Israel's parliamentary elections, Palestinian state

No Palestinian state if elected, says Netanyah

Voting starts in Israel's parliamentary elections

Jerusalem, (IANS) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has struck down hopes of a Palestinian state if he was re-elected in Tuesday's national elections, according to media reports on Monday.

Confirming that "there will be no Palestinian state", Netanyahu said: "I think that anyone who moves to establish a Palestinian state and evacuate territory gives territory away to radical Islamist attacks against Israel," Xinhua reported citing Israeli media.

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Netanyahu is trying to get more votes from far-right Israeli voters at the expense of the nationalist Jewish Home party, as polls from last week have shown the centre-left Zionist Union list gaining a four-seat lead on the Likud, in the upcoming elections.

Netanyahu's statement contradicts his 2009 Bar-Ilan speech, in which he expressed his support for a two-state solution to end the conflict with the Palestinians.

In the famous speech, which came under pressure from the US administration, Netanyahu said that if Israel received a guarantee for security arrangements and if the Palestinians recognised Israel as the Jewish people's state, there was room for a future peace deal to end the conflict through a two-state solution.

The Israeli leader also criticised the Left, saying that they "have buried (their) head in the sand time and time again and ignore this, but we are realistic and we understand".

He said that if the heads of the Zionist Union list Isaac Herzog (Labour) and Tzipi Livni (Hatnua) won the elections, they would freeze construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem settlements and take orders from the international community.

Earlier on Monday, during a campaign trail in the east Jerusalem Jewish settlement of Har Homa, Netanyahu told reporters that if he was re-elected, he would build thousands of housing units in east Jerusalem, adding that he and members of the Likud party would make sure that Jerusalem "stayed united".

Political pundits in Israel believe that Netanyahu realised that he would not manage to get votes from the centre-right voters, who left the Likud for Kulanu ("all of us" in Hebrew).

Therefore, Netanyahu was making a last-minute effort to gain votes from the hardcore right, who might have left the Likud for the Jewish Home.

The Palestinians aim to establish a state within the territories that Israel occupied in the West Bank and Gaza and annexed in east Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East War. Israel and the Palestinians negotiated between July 2013 and April 2014 as part of the US-mediated talks, but talks came to a dead end.

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