Right demands West Bank Annexation, Left says it's still occupation

Right-wing politicians demanded that Israel immediately annex the West Bank settlements in light of the US's dramatic announcement, while Left-wing politicians insisted that Israel still "occupied."

A girl holds an Israeli flag on a hilltop near the Maaleh Adumim settlement (photo credit: REUTERS)
A girl holds an Israeli flag on a hilltop near the Maaleh Adumim settlement
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Right-wing Israeli politicians hailed the United State’s for recognizing their historic rights to Judea and Samaria, while Left-wing politicians accused it destabilizing the Middle East by politicizing the conflict with the Palestinians.
Foreign Minister Isreal Katz (Likud) said, “The right of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel is indisputable. I would like to thank the Trump administration's consistent and steadfast support for Israel and its commitment to furthering peoples' relations and to creating a Middle East of prosperity and stability.”

He spoke after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo clarified that his country did not view West Bank settlements as illegal.

Blue and White party head Benny Gantz said it showed the US’s “firm adherence to Israel and its commitment to security and the future of the entire Middle East."

"The fate of the communities and residents of Judea and Samaria should be determined by arrangements that meet security requirements and can promote peace," he said.

"[These should be] arrangements that will serve both sides, and will also reflect the facts on the ground."

Interior Security and Strategic Affair Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud)  reacted to the announcement sayin that it would "help us curb and thwart boycott attacks against Israel targeting Judea and Samaria [the West Bank]."

"After changing the United States' position, it is expected that the government finally approve the Edmund Levy report, which also recognized the legality of Jewish settlement, and would apply the Israeli law to Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank],” Erdan said.

Joint List Party head MK Ayman Odeh rejected the US announcement stating that "no foreign minister will change the fact that the settlements were built on occupied land on which a sovereign Palestinian state will be established by Israel's side."

MK Tamar Zandberg (Democratic Union) mocked the move. Next "the United States will also announce that the sun rises in the west,” she said.

MK Aida Touma-Sliman (Joint List) noted the timing of the announcement which came in the midst of a critical juncture in the battle for the premiership.
“Trump gave Netanyahu another gift.These two are a threat to the region and its peoples. The Illegality of the settlements was not set by the US, and Trump cannot make them legitimate. Nor can he or Netanyahu stop the struggle against the occupation,” she said.

On the right of the political map Justice Minister Amir Ohana [Likud] called the announcement "a real message that marks the recognition of the connection between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel, and not least of all - the deep connection between the leaders Netanyahu and Trump."

Former defense minister MK Moshe Bogie Yaalon [Blue and White], said he "applauds he American government's statement and the historic clarification that settling in Judea and Samaria is not a violation of international law."

"It is good that what has always been clear to us is getting such a seal," he said. "One cannot be an occupant in his own land"

"This move, which will undoubtedly benefit the State of Israel in addressing the international arena for our rights in our land, joins a series of significant moves the Trump administration has made in recent years. This is further evidence that Israel-US relations have never been better "

Yamina party head and former justice minister MK Ayelet Shaked tweeted, “The Jewish People have the legal [and] moral right to live in their ancient homeland. Now is the time to apply our sovereignty to these communities.”
Tourism Minister Yariv Levin [Likud] called the announcement a "historic step of the friendliest administration Israel has ever had. The recognition of the legality of West Bank settlements is another milestone on the way to full Israeli sovereignty over the entirety of the Land of Israel."

"This is another proof that the relations between the United States and the Israeli government are the best and strongest they've ever been," he said. "It is time for the Israeli left as well to recognize the fact that the Land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people."

The Left-wing Group Peace Now said, “This is a direct assault on the two-state solution and a deliberate choice to pave the way toward more aggressive settlement actions by the caretaker Netanyahu government toward the annexation of occupied territories and to solidify a permanent, undemocratic one-state reality.”

‘Furthermore, the timing of this announcement just two days before Benny Gantz’s deadline to form a coalition hints that the Trump administration is yet again attempting to meddle in Israel’s election politics, as it did in with the recognition of Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights before the April election,” he said.

“This U.S. declaration is not pro-Israel. It is a selfish move to pander to a messianic minority in America at the cost of Israel’s future and moral character. It abets the worst of the Israeli prime minister’s policy decisions as he desperately tries to mollify his right-wing flank in order to have a chance at holding onto power,” Peace Now said.

Settler leaders called for the immediate application of sovereignty to Judea and Samaria.

“For over 50 years we have contended that the state of Israel has historic and legal rights on the area. The time has come for the world to know and understand that it is ours,” the YESHA Council said.

“Now it's clear to everyone - Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley are an integral part of the State of Israel. After American recognition, we must advance to the next stage - the application of sovereignty [over Judea and Samaria],” the YESHA Council said.

The Sovereignty movement welcomes the US president's declaration that settlement in Judea and Samaria does not violate international law.

The Sovereignty Movement said, “The words of the American President faithfully express the historical truth and international law which states that Judea and Samaria are part of the territory designated for the establishment of a Jewish home for the Jewish people. President Trump continues in his consistent way, standing to the right of Israel and to the right of justice and truth.”

The leaders of the Sovereignty Movement Yehudit Katsover and Nadia Matar said, "The sovereignty process continues to progress step by step as a just and moral act  that will create regional stability and security. The Trump era is a historic opportunity for the Israeli government to promote its Zionist goals on to its historical mission.”

Ma’aleh Adumim Mayor Benny Kashriel called on Netanyahu to make use of the momentum caused by the US announcement to immediately authorize construction in the E-1 section of his city.

“The time has come to build E-1 immediately,” Kashriel said.

Plans for the construction of some 3,500 houses in E-1, have been frozen for the last 25 years due to US pressure against the construction of that section of the Ma’aleh Adumim settlement.

“Now the key is in [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu’s hands. I expected him to build E-1. He has just been given the green light by the US to do so,” he said.

Gush Etzion Regional Council head Shlomo Ne’eman said, "the free world decided that an occupying power should not settle a civilian population on the lands it occupied during a war."

He added that "now the United States has taken another step toward truth and justice and bringing us closer to the reality that the State of Israel will not only rule Judea and Samaria, but will also be the sole owner of the Land of Israel by applying full sovereignty."

Dr. Mike Evans, founder of the Friends of Zion Museum and a member of the Trump Evangelical Advisory team, has also lauded the administration's move.

Declaring that "America has finally decided that the Bible is no longer illegal," Evans believes the move will allow the Jewish state to apply sovereignty in these disputed areas. He added that his Museum will be building an entire exhibition dedicated to Trump.