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Netanyahu: No Palestinian state on my watch

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Benjamin Netanyahu said in an interview that as long as he is Israel’s prime minister, a Palestinian state will not be established.

The interview was published Monday on the Israeli news website NRG, a day before Israelis head to the polls, as Netanyahu attempts to shore up right-wing support.

“I think anyone who is going to establish a Palestinian state and to evacuate territory is giving radical Islam a staging ground against the State of Israel,” Netanyahu told NRG. “This is the reality that has been created here in recent years. Anyone who ignores it has his head in the sand.”

When the interviewer asked again in the article, presented in a Q&A format, “If you are a prime minister, there will be no Palestinian state?” Netanyahu responded, “Indeed.”

Netanyahu accused the left of burying its head in the sand “again and again.” He said a strong government led by Likud must be formed to withstand the pressures of the international community to divide Jerusalem and return to the pre-1967 borders.

Also Monday, Netanyahu visited the Jewish eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Homa, considered an illegal settlement by the international community. As prime minister in 1997, Netanyahu approved the first construction in Har Homa.

“It was a way of stopping Bethlehem from moving toward Jerusalem,” Netanyahu said of the construction, The New York Times reported. “This neighborhood, exactly because it stops the continuation of the Palestinians, I saw the potential was really great.

“We will preserve Jerusalem’s unity in all its parts. We will continue to build and fortify Jerusalem so that its division won’t be possible and it will stay united forever.”

Xavier Abu Eid, a spokesman for the Palestine Liberation Organization, was quoted in the Times as saying that Netanyahu “has confirmed verbally for the first time what we have denounced for years — that Har Homa is not about an innocent ‘Jerusalem neighborhood’ on occupied land, but about splitting occupied East Jerusalem from Bethlehem.”