Labor Party Lawmaker Draws Fire Over Call to Annex Major Israeli Settlement Blocs

Eitan Cabel's initiative, published on Haaretz, is unacceptable, Zionist Union leader Avi Gabbay says ■ Cabel: Palestinians would not be granted Israeli citizenship

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Avi Gabbay in Herzeliya, May 2018
Avi Gabbay in Herzeliya, May 2018Credit: תומר אפלבאום

Lawmaker Eitan Cabel (Zionist Union) is drawing scorn from fellow party members on Sunday after publishing a diplomatic initiative in Haaretz, which includes the annexation of major settlement blocs.

Cabel's plan, among several clauses, suggests a one-sided annexation of the settlement blocs in the West Bank which would mean the applying of Israeli law on their residents. In the article laying out his initiative, Cabel called on his fellow party members to "sober up" and abandon the dream of a peace accord signing on the White House lawn.

Zionist Union leader Avi Gabbay dismissed Cabel's plan on Sunday, saying in a statement that "Eitan Cabel presented his stance. That is fine, this is a democratic party and people are allowed to speak their peace. (However,) It is a stance unacceptable to the party."

Other senior members of the Labor party, the major faction in the Zionist Union, remained silent publically, but many expressed harsh criticism behind the scenes. "Cabel is in the twilight of his career, he has no sufficient support base in the party, and he knows he'll have a hard time getting in the list in the next term," a senior Labor party member told Haaretz.

"It’s a delusional initiative It's like [Habayit Hayehudi leader Naftali] Bennett speaking through Cabel," he added. "He's suggesting an annexation, but doesn't say what will become of the Palestinian population in those territories. These are irresponsible and ill-prepared statements," the party member said.

Yael Sinai, head of the Labor Party Youth Guard, said it petitioned Gabbay, as well as other Labor lawmakers, demanding Cabel be suspended indefinitely from all his roles in the party. Their statement also called to suspend MK Nachman Shai (Zionist Union), who provoked ire among party members when he called being dubbed a leftist "a stain." Shai later retracted his comment.

Speaking on Israeli radio, Cabel responded to criticism of his initiative, saying his greatest fear was Israel becoming a bi-national state, "A state of all its citizens just as the far right and the far left" are trying to achieve, he said.

"I will say it very clearly: My plan is not a peace plan, but a plan to save the peace," Cabel stressed, explaining he favors annexing the settlement blocs exclusively, along with 300,000 Israeli settlers within the blocs. The remaining 100,000, he said, would be compensated.

"If we don't do something, it won't be long before, in 10-20 years, those 100 (thousand living outside the blocs) will become 300 (thousand) Anything outside the blocs would be open for negotiation" according to his initiative. All construction outside the blocs is to be frozen immediately, he asserts.

When asked what would become of the Palestinians living within the blocs, Cabel said they would continue to live under Israeli law. He stressed, however, they would not be granted Israeli citizenship.

In an op-ed responding to Cabel's intiative, Gideon Levy admonished Cabel's racism, citing Cabel's words that his parents didn't immigrate to Israel from Yemen to live in a country with an Arab majority. Levy acknowledged Cabel for removing "the disguise" the Zionist left has "worn for 50 years," saying Israel no longer needs an election as almost everyone is in favor of the occupation.

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