Defense Minister Naftali Bennett promised to demolish all illegally built Palestinian structures and increase settlement construction as he toured the Jordan Valley on Monday, a day after the Sovereignty Committee met.
“I am not at the United Nations,” Bennett said in an apparent dig at the UN’s persistent declaration that Israel settlement activity is illegal under Israeli law. Israel and the US have rejected such claims.
On Sunday, the interdepartmental Sovereignty Committee, made up of representatives from the Foreign Ministry, the IDF and its Civil Administration and the National Security Council, held its first formal meeting.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu created the committee to begin planning for the application of sovereignty over settlements in the Jordan Valley and in the Megilot region of the Dead Sea. Such an application cannot be done by an interim government and must wait until a new government is formed.
Bennett heads the New Right Party, which is politically to the right of Netanyahu’s Likud Party. He has long been a supporter of the application of sovereignty to Area C of the West Bank.
“I have a policy of fully supporting the settlements,” Bennett said.
Bennett was accompanied by Yesha Council head David ElHayani, who also heads the Jordan Valley Regional Council. He also met with several settler leaders.
Bennett’s visit was closed to the media, but a short statement from his visit was released by the Yesha Council.
“As defense minister I have a clear position on settlement expansion in Judea and Samaria in the fastest, best and most powerful way possible,” he said.
Bennett reiterated the right-wing contention that the Palestinians are building in Area C to change facts on the ground so that they can solidify their hold on the territory and prevent the region’s inclusion into Israel’s final borders.
The Palestinians Authority maintains that all of Area C should be part of the final borders of its future state.
The Civil Administration, which is in charge of Israeli and Palestinian civilian life in Area C, hands out very few Palestinian building permits, and most construction in that area is illegal.
Bennett said he would remove all illegal Palestinian buildings.
Palestinian construction in Area C “is politicized building, aimed at acquiring as much of our land as possible,” he said.
“Our objective is to build and strengthen Area C as much as possible,” Bennett said.