Ariel settlement building - Moti Milrod - August 2011
A building site in the settlement of Ariel last year. 277 new homes were approved in the town. Photo by Moti Milrod
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Israel should legally annex West Bank settlements in response to the Palestinians' recent bid for recognition in the United Nations, the leaders of several right-wing Knesset factions said in a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday.

The letter was signed by Likud chairman Ze'ev Elkin, Shas chairman Avraham Michaeli, Habayit Hayehudi chairman Uri Orbach, and the leader of the National Union faction Yaakov Katz.

In the missive, the right-wing MKs urged the prime minister to sanction the Palestinian Authority for what they called a "unilateral" move in the UN, saying that Israel had to make it clear that it would not agree serve as the Palestinians' "punching bag."

Among the steps mentioned in the letter to Netanyahu, the right-wing leaders mentioned the gradual annexation of all West Bank settlements; cutting Palestinian aid money; accelerated settlement building; cancellation of PA officials' VIP ID cards; and prohibiting any Palestinian construction in areas controlled by Israeli security forces.

Citing the reasons behind such steps, the missive indicated that a Palestinian avoidance of unilateral moves was the only return Israel received for all of its concessions as part of the Oslo Peace Accords.

"The PA's UN bid on unilateral recognition is a blunt breach of those agreements, which have, in the last 18 years, taken their severe toll on us," the letter said, condemning states involved in those accords that are now deliberating whether or n or to support their undoing.

"We call upon you to make it clear to those nations that their conduct during this crisis rules them out was mediator in future negotiations," the letter said, warning of the "serious damage that could befall Israel if it chooses to avoid reponse."

In such an event, the letter indicated, Israel would "completely lose its deterrence, thus stimulating the Palestinians to continue their actions against it in the international arena."

"In fact, the international damage that Israel could suffer in the wake of the UN vote is significantly smaller than that it would suffer if it doesn't follow up on the principle you set a decade ago – 'If they give, they'll get; if they don't give, they get nothing.'"