Vehicles drive on Highway 443 past the West Bank Jewish settlement of Beit Horon.
(photo credit: AMMAR AWAD / REUTERS)
The Likud central committee is expected to vote to endorse annexation of Judea, Samaria, the Jordan Valley and Jerusalem in a meeting at Airport City on Sunday that is being billed as historic.
The decision would bind Likud Chairman and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as all of the party’s ministers and Knesset members. The meeting was organized by the Likud’s nationalist ideological group, led by Likud activists Natan Engelsman and Shevah Stern.
“The goal is not to pressure the prime minister, because we believe he supports the initiative but cannot say so,” Engelsman said. “Our goal is to strengthen Netanyahu, who could have stopped the vote but made a point of letting it happen.”
The Likud central committee has not had a vote on a key ideological issue since it voted against a Palestinian state in 2002 at the request of Netanyahu, resulting in then-prime minister and Likud leader Ariel Sharon leaving the party.
Since then, prime ministers and Likud leaders have taken steps to prevent such votes. But Engelsman said now is the time to pass such a proposal, with President Donald Trump in the White House.
“This is a historic event that we have been waiting for,” Engelsman said. “If the president of the United States believes Jerusalem is ours, there is no reason why a right-wing party and coalition cannot. It’s important for us to show Trump what the ruling party in Israel wants, and since he loves the Jewish people, sooner or later, he will come to the same conclusion.”
Speakers at the event will include former interior and education minister Gideon Sa’ar and Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat, who both sent a video endorsement of the proposal to Likud activists.
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, Tourism Minister Yariv Levin, Communications Minister Ayoub Kara, Science and Technology Minister Ayoub Kara, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely, and Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Avi Dichter also sent endorsements.
“After Trump was elected, I said the time had come to set a diplomatic goal of annexing Area C, on the way to exercising our sovereignty over all of Judea and Samaria,” Sa’ar said in the video he sent the Likud activists. “This will give a practical solution to the needs of the half-million Israelis living in Judea and Samaria.”