Right-wing Israeli Lawmakers Celebrate Trump’s Victory: 'Time to Push Settlements'

Members of the Knesset’s Land of Israel Caucus exulted over an anticipated U.S. policy shift over the Palestinians and the West Bank.

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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MK Moti Yogev, during a Knesset subcommittee panel on the demographics of the West Bank.
MK Moti Yogev.Credit: Michal Fattal
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

Donald Trump’s election victory has reinvigorated Knesset members from Israel's right wing Likud and Habayit Hayehudi parties, who called his win a "new era" for Israel's settlement movement.

Their fight against the dismantling of the illegal Amona outpost has now given way to much grander plans for settling the occupied territories in the West Bank, they say.

“It’s unquestionably a new era. Now is the time to advance plans, to resume building and move ahead,” Moti Yogev (Habayit Hayehudi) urged colleagues in the Land of Israel caucus during a celebratory meeting in the Knesset.

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“We can expect a better future for the Land of Israel under President Trump,” said Miki Zohar (Likud), who also warned against unilateral moves by President Barack Obama during his remaining time in office. “I don’t want to spoil the mood,” said Zohar, “but the president-elect doesn’t take office for another two months. We need to have a little patience. When he gets into office we’ll be able to advance significant moves.” Caucus Co-chairman Bezalel Smotrich (Habayit Hayehudi) retorted: “In American culture, [Obama] doesn’t have legitimacy to pursue unilateral moves. Don’t be alarmist.”

Oren Hazan (Likud) called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to ignore the leftist media and to resume building in the settlements. “The president who will take office very soon says we should build. I call on the prime minister to place brick upon brick without any fear whatsoever. After so many years of the left and the media selling us stories about isolation and friction, finally our greatest friend overseas is saying exactly the things we’ve been dreaming of.”

Only Yehuda Glick (Likud) voiced reservations about Trump’s controversial remarks: “We must build partnerships with our neighbors. Even if we apply sovereignty, neither the Palestinians nor the Jews are going anywhere.”

Nissan Smoliansky (Habayit Hayehudi) then joked that caucus members got carried away. “When I heard the people here, it seemed as if any minute Trump will walk in and sit down as the head of our party, because ‘we’ won,” he said, adding: “Obama is gone, Trump is in, but we need to work on the inside and tell the prime minister, lead the right-wing parties. There’s no more excuse of being afraid of Obama. We have to start moving ahead,” Smoliansky said in the meeting.

Caucus Co-chairman Yoav Kish (Likud) read aloud a statement the MKs addressed to Netanyahu: “We call on the prime minister to act from now on in accordance with the historic opportunity created by the election in the United States to resume building all in every part of our land, and to say farewell to the dangerous two-state plan, and instead to promote normalization and sovereignty in Judea and Samaria.”

Earlier in the day, Habayit Hayehudi Chairman and Education Minister Naftali Bennett congratulated the president-elect and said, “Trump’s victory is an opportunity for Israel to immediately retract the notion of a Palestinian state in the center of the country, which would hurt our security and just cause. This is the position of the President-elect, as written in his platform, and it should be our policy, plain and simple. ... The era of a Palestinian state is over.”

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