Israeli PM Netanyahu begins historic visit to Singapore

Israel and the USA will set up a joint team to discuss Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday (Feb 19), days after talks with President Donald Trump.

Palestinians continue to call for the destruction of the Jewish state.

Over the years, many and probably most Israelis have come around to the idea of a partition largely because they want to be considered a democracy and do not want all the Palestinian future citizens that would come along with the territory.

The US president, Donald Trump, used a visit by Netanyahu to Washington last week to dump America's 20-year commitment to the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel as part of a permanent Middle East peace agreement. We are all too aware of the pitiful situation in which the Palestinian people find themselves and they deserve our full political and moral support in their legitimate claim to statehood and freedom.

The leaders of Egypt and Jordan were said to view the entry of Herzog or another opposition figure into Netanyahu's coalition government as a potential rationale to press Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who had been previously made aware of the secret talks by Kerry, and to help secure the participation of the Saudis and other Arab countries in a regional summit.

Netanyahu's visit is scheduled to run from Wednesday to Saturday, a relatively long foreign stay for Israeli prime ministers, who typically are reluctant to be overseas for long because of the security situation at home. "Can the Foreign Secretary confirm that the United Kingdom remains committed to a two-state solution and will redouble its efforts on that?" But he said the Arab partners also showed varying degrees of enthusiasm, with the Palestinians most concerned about concessions forced on them.

Netanyahu participated in this secret meeting on February 21, 2016 in Aqaba, Jordan, with King Abdullah II of Jordan and President el-Sissi of Egypt, former US officials told the AP. The alternative, a single binational state, could require Israel to grant citizenship to millions Palestinians under its control, threatening its status as a Jewish-majority democracy.

Mr Netanyahu's visit to Singapore is a reciprocal visit following Mr Lee's trip to Israel past year.

Singapore hopes both Israel and Palestine can resume direct negotiations and make progress on a "just and durable solution" to their longstanding conflict, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday. The Prime Minister's Office declined to comment on the story.

"Mr. Netanyahu's policies consistently aim to provoke, intimidate and oppress the Palestinian population", it charged. "Our position is that there should be a two-state solution negotiated between Israel and the Palestinian Authority", Sydney Morning Herald has quoted him saying. Whatever the objective of Mr Trump's unexpected musing, he deserves support if his intention is to devote substantial time early in his presidency to, as he puts it, "make a deal".

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