Shaked: Trump officials think sovereignty should be applied immediately

Netanyahu ‘can deliver immediate imposition if he wants to,’ says Smotrich

Ayelet Shaked and Bezalel Smotrich meets with sovereignty supporters. February 6, 2020.  (photo credit: JEREMY SHARON)
Ayelet Shaked and Bezalel Smotrich meets with sovereignty supporters. February 6, 2020.
(photo credit: JEREMY SHARON)
Many officials in the Trump administration think Israel should apply sovereignty to parts of the West Bank immediately, Yamina MK Ayelet Shaked said Thursday.
Speaking at the sovereignty protest tent opposite the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, Shaked and fellow Yamina leader Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to immediately annex the territories in the West Bank assigned to the Jewish state under US President Donald Trump’s Middle East proposals and not wait until after the March 2 election.
The Trump administration, including senior figures such as Jared Kushner, have made clear they do not want Israel to carry out any hasty annexations before the election. But Yamina has continued to push for such action.
“The first step is to apply sovereignty to 50% of Area C, the settlements,” Shaked said inside the tent. “Then in four years, after it is clear that the Palestinians won’t have complied with any of the criteria of the plan, we can apply sovereignty over all the territory, over 100% of Area C.”
Asked if she was not concerned about acting in opposition to the Trump administration’s wishes that no annexation be carried out before the election, Shaked said officials in the White House were in favor of it.
“We are also speaking with the Americans,” she said. “We are not hiding our intentions. We are talking publicly and talking to the administration. And there are also many officials in the [Trump] administration who think sovereignty should be applied immediately and see afterwards what happens.”
Smotrich praised Netanyahu for his diplomatic achievements, adding that he was certain the prime minister will try and annex the territories before the elections.
“I don’t accept the fact that it is something he cannot deliver,” Smotrich said. “He has delivered great achievements. He can deliver this achievement as well if he wants to.”
“It’s either sovereignty or a terrorist state. The plan has great opportunities and great dangers,” he said. “It is very likely that if this doesn’t happen before the elections, it won’t happen after them either.”
Smotrich said he had heard “a great deal of talk” about the establishment of a unity government after the elections, meaning one without Yamina, and that such a government would not annex the settlements.
Netanyahu told settler leaders on Wednesday that there was an internal US misunderstanding with regard to sovereignty that must be resolved, so Israel can find common ground with the Trump administration on the issue.
The PMO did not send out any information on the meeting and his words were reported only by the settler leaders.
“The prime minister explained to us the change in the US position on sovereignty as an ‘internal misunderstanding’ within the administration,” Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan said after the meeting. He added that Netanyahu had said, “We have to come to an understanding with the US.”
Dagan reported, “I told him we expect him to apply sovereignty even without coordination with the United States.”
Yesha Council CEO Yigal Dilmoni said the Americans need to understand that the delay in annexation is causing damage to the right-wing government.
“They built up our expectations that this would happen before the elections, and at the last moment this was changed,” he said.
Dilmoni said Trump, during a speech last year to the Israeli-American Council, described how in the two days between deciding to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem and the actual announcement he had received numerous phone calls from world leaders asking him not to carry it out.
“He didn’t answer them because he knew it would create pressure [not to do it], and the same thing needs to happen here [with annexation],” he said. “We cannot delay. It only brings on more pressure.”
Netanyahu has indicated this week that he plans to adhere to a White House request that he hold off on sovereignty until the elections. An initial agenda of Sunday’s weekly cabinet meeting, does not include the issue of sovereignty.
Yesha Council head and Regional Jordan Valley Council head David Elhayani said they had “heard Netanyahu’s” words and had “expressed” their support for him.
The settler leaders asked him to make every effort possible to apply sovereignty, even before the elections.
Netanyahu agreed to continue to update the Yesha Council on sovereignty efforts in the coming days, Elhayani said.
The Sovereignty Movement held a protest march in Jerusalem to demand sovereignty now and to state their opposition to any peace plan that calls for the creation of a Palestinian state.
“The government of Israel has the authority to apply sovereignty with a governmental decision independent of any external factors,” the Sovereignty Movement said.
“The prime minister and the ministers of the Israeli government can enter the annals of history with a Zionist step of leadership that will raise the entire State of Israel to the next level of Zionism, the level of sovereignty”, said movement cochairs Yehudit Katsover and Nadia Matar.
“Historical and national rights to the Land of Israel belong only to the People of Israel and this is totally independent of any security matter. You do not make deals on your homeland.”
Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.