Netanyahu vows to annex West Bank settlements if re-elected

08 April, 2019, 06:54 | Author: Emmett Rice
  • Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu vows to annex West Bank settlements if re-elected

FILE PHOTO: Labourers work on hanging up a Likud election campaign banner depicting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with his party candidates, in Jerusalem March 28, 2019.

"Netanyahu's dreams of annexing the West Bank will never be achieved and we will not allow that to happen", he said.

Israelis head to the polls on Tuesday and in the final stretch of the tight race, Netanyahu is competing for votes with right-wing parties who support annexing part of the West Bank.

The Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu has warned his electorate base in an address given in Hebrew that the Israeli right is in danger of losing power on election day.

Settlements, which Israel's B'Tselem rights group said cover about 10 percent of the West Bank, are one of the most heated issues in efforts to restart peace talks, frozen since 2014.

After decades of settlement building, more than 400,000 Israelis now live in the West Bank, protected by an Israeli military presence that divides some Palestinian communities and cuts off towns and villages with checkpoints.

Netanyahu has promoted Jewish settlement expansion in his four terms as prime minister, but until now refrained from presenting a detailed vision for the West Bank, seen by the Palestinians as the heartland of a future state.

If such a measure is tabled, Israel would pull out of Washington's plan, according to Netanyahu.

"We will move to the next stage, the imposing of Israeli sovereignty", said Netanyahu. "I am going to extend [Israel's] sovereignty", he said. "From my perspective, any point of settlement is Israeli, and we have responsibility, as the Israeli government". I won't uproot anyone, and I won't place them under Palestinian sovereignty.

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During the interview, Netanyahu depicted the USA policy shifts on Jerusalem and the Golan Heights as his achievements, saying that he had managed to persuade President Trump to take these steps.

Not that many years ago, a two-state solution seemed nearly unstoppable and inevitable.

Palestinian negotiators have boycotted contact with the Trump administration since it, in another break with longtime policy, moved the USA embassy to Jerusalem and recognized the city as the country's capital, enraging Palestinians, who also consider the city their capital.

Last month the United States recognised the occupied Golan Heights, seized from Syria in 1967, as Israeli territory.

The U.S. State Department declined to comment on Netanyahu's statement.

Asked by Channel 12 about annexing Israeli settlements in the West Bank, he said that "we're on the way" and that "the next term (in office) will be fateful".

Senior Palestinian Authority official Saeb Erekat said in response to Netanyahu's interview that the Palestinian Authority had urgently appealed to the International Court of Justice in The Hague to initiate an investigation against senior Israeli officials on this matter.

Those principles include keeping security control of the Jordan Valley, parts of which are in the West Bank, and maintaining the large settlement blocs in the West Bank. "Since then the residents of this region have lived in a state of political limbo, not knowing what the near future will bring and under which flag we would live".

The Palestinians have been boycotting the Trump administration over its Jerusalem moves and other recent decisions they view as pro-Israel bias.

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