Bennett to Netanyahu: Israel Must Annex Settlement Blocs in Response to Palestinian Move

Economy Minister says annexation, coming in response to PA's request to join 15 UN bodies, will be similar to the imposition of sovereignty on Jerusalem and the Golan Heights by previous governments.

Barak Ravid
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Naftali Bennett.
Naftali Bennett.Credit: Moti Milrod
Barak Ravid

Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, head of Habayit Hayehudi party, has requested that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convene a cabinet meeting to discuss the annexation by Israel of the large settlement blocs, including Ariel, Ma'ale Adumim, Alfei Menashe and Gush Etzion.

Bennett's request, which was conveyed in a letter to Netanyahu on Wednesday night, was a response to the Palestinian Authority's request to join 15 international conventions.

Bennett told Haaretz that he intended to embark on a media campaign, both in Israel and abroad, to promote his plan of annexing the settlement blocs to Israel.

He added that he also intended to open contacts with the various coalition factions to build a majority for the idea in both the government and the Knesset.

"We will offer Israeli citizenship to all the Palestinians in the areas that we annex," Bennett stressed. "They will be the living example that there is no apartheid in Israel while, at the same time, the annexation will minimize the range of discussion in any future negotiations."

However slim the chances that the Netanyahu government will adopt Bennett's proposal, the economy minister is convinced that the prime minister will be compelled to take it seriously as support for the move grows in the Knesset and among the public.

"All the settlement blocs are part of the current Israeli consensus, so there's no reason not to do it," he said. "The world's reaction won't be simple and we will have a difficult time internationally, but it will at least be a move that we will be taking on our own initiative and not something that we're dragged into, as at present."

In his letter to Netanyahu, Bennett said that Israel was witnessing the sunset of the diplomatic process. "The Palestinians have broken all records for extortion and rejectionism," he wrote. "After Abu Mazen refused to discuss recognition of Israel as a Jewish state and after Israel freed dozens of murderers for the sake of continuing the negotiations, the Palestinians have now crudely breached the basis for negotiations and the Oslo Accords by their unilateral approach to the United Nations. That's in addition to their continued racist incitement towards the murder of Jews and the payment of a "blood stipend" to terrorists."

The current negotiating round has reached its limit and "we are entering a new era," Bennett wrote in his letter. "For years, we have been banging our heads against the wall of negotiations, time after time – and unsurprisingly the wall doesn't break. The time has come for new thinking.

"I request that you hold a discussion as soon as possible on Plan B, in order to begin the process of imposing Israeli sovereignty on the areas of Samaria and Judea that are under Israeli control – Ariel, Gush Etzion, the Ben-Gurion Airport envelope, the Ofra-Beit El bloc, Ma'ale Adumim and more. Some 4000,000 Israelis live in those areas and just tens of thousands of Palestinians.

"Those areas are part of a wide national consensus and they have security, historic and moral significance for the State of Israel. Such a move will be similar to the imposition of sovereignty on Jerusalem by the Eshkol government and on the Golan Heights by the Begin government."

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