Bennett: We Must Act Now and 'Give Our Lives' for the Annexation of the West Bank

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Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett, Sept. 9, 2016.
Education Minister Naftali Bennett, September 9, 2016.Credit: Emil Salman

Education Minister and Habayit Hayehudi leader Naftali Bennett said Thursday that "we must give our lives" for the cause of annexing the West Bank to Israel. Bennett, who was speaking at a at a conference in Jerusalem in memory of settler figure Hanan Porat, also criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the plans to evict the illegal outpost Amona by the end of the year. 

"On the matter of the Land of Israel, we have to move from holding action to a decision," Bennett said. "We have to mark the dream, and the dream is that Judea and Samaria will be part of the sovereign State of Israel. We have to act today, and we must give our lives. We can't keep marking the Land of Israel as a tactical target and a Palestinian state as the strategic target." 

Bennett didn't mention Netanyahu by name, but criticized the prime minister's statements in favor of the two-state solution. Bennett also made a veiled attack at the Supreme Court over its rulings on Amona and on the eviction of other illegal West Bank outposts. 

"Like Hanan said, we have no right to divide the land," Bennett said. "Not with words, not with actions, not by silent acquiescence, not with quiet excuses. Not by politicians and not by jurists," the education minister said. "The path of concessions, the path of dividing (the land), has failed." 

Bennett also blasted leftists groups that filed petitions to the Supreme Court demanding the eviction of illegal outposts built on private Palestinian land, claiming that they were trying to circumvent the people's will with legal measures. "Those who don't view the settlement in the Land of Israel kindly, have given up the heart of the people of Israel," he said. 

"I can't not comment on the gathering storm over thousands of homes in Judea and Samaria," Bennett said, promising to lead a strategic solution for all Israeli settlements: "I hereby announce: We take responsibility. No more tactical solutions – but strategic regularization," he said.  

Tzipi Livni, co-chair of the Zionist Union and a former foreign minister blasted Bennett's remarks, saying that he has finally shed his mask: "Bennett's dream and the minority that he represents are the nightmare of all the people of Israel: A state with an Arab majority, with a continuous violent conflict." 

The Supreme Court has ruled that Amona, which was built on private Palestinian land, must be evacuated by the end of the year.

The state has since proposed that the residents of Amona be relocated to a planned new settlement in the area of Shvut Rachel.  On Tuesday, the U.S. blasted the plans, saying the plans violate Netanyahu's commitment not to build new West Bank settlements.

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