Education Minister and HaBayit HaYehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett on Sunday met in New York with three staffers of President-Elect Donald Trump and asked that the new Administration not automatically adopt the two-state solution as its official policy but examine alternatives to what has been the Obama and GW Bush administrations’ default approach, Ha’aretz reported Tuesday.
The meeting between Bennett and the Trump staffers appears to have contradicted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s explicit instruction not to conduct direct meetings with the incoming president’s people. Bennett’s office described his visit to New York as a routine work trip, for meetings with US Jewish organizations as part of his role as minister of diaspora affairs.
According to knowledgeable sources, Bennett suggested what he termed “Palestinian autonomy on steroids” in parts of Judea and Samaria, alongside a gradual application of Israeli sovereignty over other parts, such as the annexation of Ma’ale Adumim.
It is estimated that Bennett asked to meet with Trump’s circle in response to an announcement by Defense Minister and Israel Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Liberman, that Israel should be happy with a new US administration that merely approves the 2005 Sharon-Bush agreement, whereby Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria may build to meet the need of the existing population, but not start new outposts.
The Trump people were aghast at the Liberman statement, accusing him of “passing on the left” of the president-elect.
Netanyahu’s office issued a written directive at 4 PM Sunday through Cabinet Secretary Zahi Braverman, asking cabinet ministers not to make contact with the president-elect or his staff except through the PM’s office or the Israeli embassy in Washington, DC.
Last Friday, Agriculture Secretary Uri Ariel HaBayit (HaYehudi) sent a letter of support to Stephen Bannon, Trump’s controversial strategist advisor, telling Bannon that although he, Ariel, may not agree with him on everything, he is grateful to him for his stand against the Iran nuclear deal and the anti-Israel boycotts.
Last week, Israel’s ambassador to the US Ron Dermer was the first foreign ambassador the president-elect met at Trump Tower in New York.