Efforts to annex Judea and Samaria have gained momentum in recent days, as the Knesset Land of Israel caucus and the heads of four factions wrote a letter on Tuesday to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu asking him to consider the move and to sanction the Palestinian Authority.
The letter, written by caucus leaders Likud faction chairman Ze’ev Elkin and National Union MK Arye Eldad, as well as the faction chairmen of Shas, National Union and Habayit Hayehudi, said sanctions would show the PA that “Israel will not agree to be its punching bag.
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“Israel will defend its interests, and turn the crisis into an opportunity,” the letter reads. “Any diplomatic attack [on Israel] will be turned into a victory.”
The Land of Israel Caucus called for a gradual annexation of settled areas in Judea and Samaria, as well as increased building and development of the region. The letter also demanded that any Palestinian construction in Area C (under full Israeli control) be prevented, and that tax and customs monies no longer be transferred to the PA.
“The Palestinian commitment to avoid unilateral steps is the only thing Israel got in return for all it has given up since the Oslo Accords,” the MKs wrote.
“The PA’s unilateral bid for recognition of statehood in the UN is a clear violation of the agreements, which for the past 18 years cost us a high price.”
The letter also says that any country that cooperates with the PA in its statehood bid may no longer serve as a mediator in peace talks.
If the prime minister fails to take such steps, the MKs wrote, he will “encourage the Palestinians to continue acting against [Israel] in the international arena.”
“The international damage to Israel from the UN vote is much smaller than the damage Israel may inflict on itself if we do not follow the principle of ‘if they give, they will get, if they don’t give, they will not get,’” the letter reads, referring to a wellknown campaign promise from Netanyahu. “This principle has saved Israel from deteriorating into the abyss opened by the engineers of the Oslo Accords.”
MK Danny Danon (Likud) plans to bring his annexation bill to a preliminary vote in the Knesset when the summer recess ends next month.
Danon’s bill calls to “cancel all of the commitments the State of Israel made in agreements with the Palestinian Authority, and act to apply sovereignty to areas with a concentration of Jewish people in Judea and Samaria.”
In the bill’s text, the Likud MK explains that the Oslo Accords forbid “any step that will change the status of the West Bank and Gaza Strip until the end of negotiations on a permanent status.”
The PA “defied this important rule by acting to unilaterally establish a Palestinian state,” and therefore “the diplomatic agreements between Israel and the PA should be canceled,” the lawmaker said.
Danon said 15 Likud MKs had expressed support for the bill, including Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alon, Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein and Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan. Israel Beiteinu, National Union and Habayit Hayehudi are also in favor of the proposal, Danon said.
The Likud MK has conducted an online poll of 500 Jewish Israeli adults, and found that, should the Palestinians unilaterally establish a state, 54.5 percent would support the annexation of settlements in Judea and Samaria.