Netanyahu speaking at a recent election campaign event.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
The United States is aware of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plans to annex West Bank settlements and his rejection of full Palestinian statehood, Netanyahu told Israeli media on Sunday as he continued to expand on his historic announcement regarding Israeli sovereignty.
In an interview with Arutz 7, Netanyahu spoke of a three-stage plan with regard to the West Bank, the third stage of which “is to apply Israeli law to the communities in Judea and Samaria, which we will do in the next term. I want to do it gradually. I want to do it if possible with American support.”
When pressed whether the White House knew of his plans, Netanyahu said, “Sure.” Asked about the Trump administration’s response to the plan, he answered, “They will react as they will react. We will see. These are my principles.”
Netanyahu reiterated his pledge not to uproot settlements or settlers. “If we do not tear out the settlers, then who are they going to live under? They are going to be under Palestinian sovereignty? That is dead.”
Those who live in the settlements, “will be under Israeli sovereignty,” he said.
In an interview with Army Radio, the prime minister clarified that he does not intend to annex all of the West Bank, just the places in Area C where the settlements are located.
The Palestinians will govern themselves, but they will not have security control, he added.
“A Palestinian state will not be created, not like the one people are talking about. It won’t happen.”
When Netanyahu first took office in 2009, he gave a foreign policy speech at Bar-Ilan University in which he spoke of his support for an Israeli and Palestinian state living side by side. He did not define the borders of that entity, and was careful to explain that his vision was of a demilitarized Palestinian state.
Prior to the last election, Netanyahu said he did not believe a Palestinian state would be created during his next government.
On Sunday, he told Arutz 7: “The Palestinians can have all the powers to govern themselves, but none to threaten us, which means we maintain security control. We don’t uproot anyone. We don’t divide Jerusalem.
“My friend [former US vice president] Joe Biden, who may be running for the presidency of the US [in 2020], said, ‘Bibi, that is not a state. That is not sovereignty.’ I said, ‘Joe, you call it what you will. This is what it is. These are my positions. I am not changing these positions.”
PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat and other Palestinian officials on Sunday strongly condemned Netanyahu’s talk about annexation and the dangers of a Palestinian state.
Erekat said he was not surprised by Netanyahu’s remarks. Israel, he said, “will continue to brazenly violate international law for as long as the international community will continue to reward Israel with impunity, particularly with the Trump administration’s support and endorsement of Israel’s violation of the national and human rights of the people of Palestine.”
Ahmed Majdalani, a PLO Central Council member and former Palestinian Authority minister, said Netanyahu’s statement requires more than expressions of concern and condemnation from the international community. He claimed that Trump’s recent decision to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights and other measures taken by the US administration, as well as Netanyahu’s remarks, are in the context of the upcoming peace plan, dubbed the “deal of the century.”
“After all these steps that are imposed on the ground, where will the Palestinian state be established?” Majdalani asked. “Which two-state solution will they be talking about?”
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin, said on Sunday that Western democracies must take a stand against Netanyahu’s words.
“Will Western democracies react or will they keep appeasing? Shame on them all,” Kalin said.
“[This is] yet another example of how Netanyahu uses electoral politics to justify occupation and undermine the two-state solution. If he is reelected, will this be a triumph of democracy or occupation?”
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu tweeted, “West Bank is Palestinian territory occupied by Israel in violation of [international] law. Prime Minister Netanyahu’s irresponsible statement to seek votes just before the Israeli general elections cannot and will not change this fact.”
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