Gil Hoffman
The Jerusalem Post
January 27, 2009 - 1:00am

Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu and three quarters of the Likud's candidates declined to sign a loyalty oath ruling out a Palestinian state that was distributed to all the parties on the Right.

The oath, distributed by the Matot Arim organization, included a vow not to lend a hand to the formation of a Palestinian state.

The National Union, Habayit Hayehudi, Israel Beiteinu and Shas signed the document.

Shas chairman Eli Yishai signed the document on behalf of his party. Meir Porush was the only United Torah Judaism MK who made the pledge.

The only candidates in the Likud's top 28 who signed the pledge or were tied to previous such pledges were Moshe Ya'alon, Yuval Steinitz, Ze'ev Elkin, Ayoub Kara, Tzipi Hotovely, Yariv Levin and Danny Danon.

A similar document was distributed when former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's government was formed. While there were MKs who signed it but later supported the Gaza Strip disengagement, and MKs who refused to sign it but later opposed the move, Matot Arim spokeswoman Susie Dym said there had been a direct correlation between who signed and how they voted.

Ironically, Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit attacked the Likud for opposing a Palestinian state at a Kadima press conference on Monday.

He called on reporters to do exactly what Matot Arim did and ask the parties whether they support a Palestinian state.

Netanyahu addressed the matter in a meeting with religious-Zionist Likud supporters in Jerusalem on Monday. At the meeting, he ruled out future unilateral withdrawals. He warned about the creation of a Palestinian state but declined to rule it out.

"Any Palestinian state that would be formed under the current conditions would become an Iranian state as we saw happen in Gaza," Netanyahu said. "[But] we all must work to advance peace while considering reality."

Netanyahu's associates said he did not want to govern a single Palestinian, but under certain circumstances, he would agree to a state with limited sovereignty and powers.

Regarding building in West Bank settlements, they said his views were no different than they were when he was prime minister, when he declined to build new settlements but allowed natural growth in those already existing.

"I have no intention of building new settlements in the West Bank," Netanyahu said in a meeting with the Quartet's Middle East envoy Tony Blair on Sunday. "But like all the governments there have been until now, I will have to meet the needs of natural growth in the population. I will not be able to choke the settlements," he said.
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