Unilaterally Annexing Parts of West Bank Would Be Disaster for Israel, Minister Says

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Tzachi Hanegbi at a Likud meeting in March 2016.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) with Minister Tzachi Hanegbi at a Likud meeting.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi

Unilaterally annexing parts of the West Bank would be a “disaster” and the ruling Likud party opposes the idea, an Israeli minister from the ruling party said on Saturday.

“It wouldn’t be good for Israel to unilaterally annex Judea and Samaria, and, therefore, the Likud government does not and will not support a unilateral move,” Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi said in Haifa, referring to the West Bank by its Hebrew name.

“Unilateral annexation is Bennett’s agenda, not the prime minister’s,” added Hanegbi, referring to Education Minister Naftali Bennett. The latter heads one of Likud’s main partners in the governing coalition, Habayit Hayehudi, and is closed associated with the settler enterprise and advocates for Israel annexing parts of the West Bank

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union) also addressed the issue at the same event. “The forces that are demanding annexation are growing stronger, and they’re brainwashing the public with lies – like coming and saying, ‘We’ll annex Area C and the world will consent to this,’” said Herzog, referring to the part of the West Bank under full Israeli civil and military control. “Area C is 60 percent of Judea and Samaria. Not only does this have no chance, but it would create a Bosnia or a Syria here.”

Bennett has been pushing the idea of annexing Area C recently, saying repeatedly that Israel needs to annex parts of the West Bank. He said the conclusion to be drawn from the UN Security Council resolution last month that condemned the settlements “is to stop walking down the suicide path of a Palestinian state and to apply Israeli law to Ma’aleh Adumim, the Jordan Valley, Ofra and all of Area C as soon as possible.”

Ma’aleh Adumim and Ofra are both settlements in the West Bank. But while the former is part of one of the major settlement blocs that could be included in a potential land swap agreement with the Palestinians, the latter is not.