Israel Will Never Hand Over Parts of the West Bank, Says Deputy FM Hotovely

Deputy foreign minister also says EU labeling of produce from the West Bank would be tantamount to a boycott of Israel.

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Tzipi Hotovely.Credit: Emil Salman

Handing over parts of the West Bank to the Palestinians is not "even on the list of options we’re offering the Palestinians,” Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said in an interview on Sunday.

While professing to support the creation of a Palestinian state in principle, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu never said evacuating the West Bank was an option, Hotovely averred. The interview with her was published on the Times of Israel.

In the absence of a permanent foreign minister – the post is held by Netanyahu – Hotovely functions as Israel's top diplomat. 

Hotovely also said that any European country that introduces the labelling of settlement products will be regarded as supporting a boycott of Israel and will remove itself from playing a significant role in the Middle East conflict. She described labelling as a "red line" for Israel and threatened to downgrade Israel's economic ties with countries that implement it.

The European Parliament passed a motion earlier this month supporting the labelling of products from Israeli settlements in the occupied territories. The EU Commission is expected to decide on the issue next month.

Hotovely added that Israel had mapped the European capitals which Israel believed could be persuaded not to implement EU labelling guidelines and would be embarking on a diplomatic campaign to lobby them.

“Europe is Israel’s number one trade partner," she said. “They, too, have something to lose.”

“Our concern is that once you put a label on Judea and Samaria, you put a label on Israel,” she said, referring to the West Bank. “We see it as a boycott of Israel for all intents and purposes. We view it as a slippery slope. It’s simply a sweeping disqualification of Israel.”