A heated debate took place on Monday at the Herzliya Conference, which saw Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) square up against former top Likud Minister Dan Meridor on the topic of the "two state solution."
In the debate, in which Hotovely opposed the "two state solution" while Meridor defended it, Meridor remarked on statements Hotovely made last month upon taking office, when she said the promise of the land of Israel by G-d to the Jewish people as recorded in the Torah should be cited in defending Israel's rights internationally.
"If we want to speak in terms of justice we must not turn Zionism – which is the most just movement of all the national movements that I can think of – into a movement for which justice isn't important, or that formulates religious terms on a divine promise," Meridor said Monday.
According to the former Likud minister, religious terms of the sort Hotovely used were never employed in Zionism because in the entire Israeli Declaration of Independence no reference to G-d or religious rights to the land of Israel are made.
Meridor said, "we cite the history, and not the religion that explains we left the land because we sinned and were exiled from it."
Not only did Meridor deny the strong religious foundation of the Jewish desire to return and reestablish a state in its Biblical homeland of Israel, a desire expressed in the central amidah prayer recited three times daily – he also called on the Israeli government to submit a plan to the UN to establish a Palestinian state within Israel.
The plan called for by Meridor would have Israel create a Palestinian state based on the 1949 Armistice lines "with changes," which he said were agreed to by former US President George W. Bush and current President Barack Obama.
Government is religious?
He also urged that the issue of "Palestinian refugees" – namely the five million descendants of the Arab residents who left Israel in the 1948 War of Independence – be solved only within the borders of a Palestinian state, meaning an influx of millions of Arab residents to Judea, Samaria and Gaza.
Meridor went on to claim that the current government will never make such a proposal, a state of affairs he said is caused by the government's "religious approach."
"They don't want to say it, because they didn't say the truth here. That even when they get all the conditions there won't be a division of the land because it was 'promised to us,'" said Meridor in claiming the current government opposes a division of Israel from a religious perspective.
Meridor struck out at the reliance on the Torah regarding Israeli rights to the land, saying it "endangers our ability to manage this difficult conflict with reason and maybe also solve it when the day finally comes. Although I admit that I don't see the solution tomorrow morning."
Israel's last attempt at peace talks were torpedoed last April when the Palestinian Authority (PA) signed international treaties unilaterally in breach of the 1993 Oslo Accords, and formed a unity agreement with the Hamas terrorist organization. The PA had repeatedly refused to recognize Israel's existence as the Jewish state.
Despite Meridor's claims about the government's insistence not to divide the land, the coalition has since late 2013 been implementing a covert freeze on Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria despite the lack of an explicit international request to do so as part of an official agreement, in what critics call an unprecedented step.