TEL AVIV – Prime Minister Netanyahu on Tuesday said with the help of the Trump administration, he would extend Israeli sovereignty over all settlements in the West Bank settlements.
“As I’ve promised, no settlement in Judea and Samaria will be uprooted and we’ll apply Israeli sovereignty over all settlements. This our next step, not just the blocs,” Netanyahu told settler leaders, using the Biblical term for the West Bank.
“We’ll ensure settlement in the heart of the Land of Israel together with the American administration,” he added.
His remarks came after his rival Benny Gantz vowed to annex the Jordan Valley if his Blue and White party won the March 2 elections, echoing a similar pledge by Netanyahu. However, Gantz added the caveat he would only do so “in coordination with the international community.”
Although the promise seemed to be targeting right wing voters, it drew criticism from the right with people saying it was nothing more than hot air.
“There’s no such thing as enacting sovereignty in coordination with the international community,” the Times of Israel quoted Yesha settlement umbrella council leader and Jordan Valley Regional Council chairman David Elhyani as saying.
Elhyani further noted most the world would reject a move to annex the Jordan Valley.
“This is a declaration empty of meaning,” Elhayani said.
Netanyahu said there was no reason for Gantz to wait until after the election to make the move, and if he believed in it he would support an upcoming vote on the matter in the next few weeks.
“Benny Gantz, I expect an answer by the end of the day,” Netanyahu challenged his rival.
The Kan public broadcaster cited Likud sources as saying that Netanyahu was even mulling dropping his request for immunity from criminal charges he faces if Gantz supports the measure when its taken to a vote.