Settlers welcome sovereignty, upset at Palestinian statehood

Among their objections was the possibility that through negotiations, the plan would allow for a Palestinian state to have representation in some of Jerusalem.

US President Donald Trump welcomes Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House (photo credit: KOBI GIDEON/GPO)
US President Donald Trump welcomes Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House
(photo credit: KOBI GIDEON/GPO)
Settler leaders have welcomed the sudden prospect that a vote on Israeli sovereignty over all of the West Bank settlements come could as early as next week. But they have vehemently opposed the portion of the Trump peace plan that calls for a Palestinian state.
“We congratulate Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump on the historic decision to annex Judea and Samaria,” said a jubilant Betar Illit Mayor Meir Rubinstein, who heads the second-largest settlement in the West Bank. “This is a fateful day for the people of Israel, the settlements and Betar Illit. After years of a freeze, we are facing a new era. Congratulations!”
Binyamin Regional Council head Israel Ganz said he and the other three settler leaders in Washington were studying the details of the plan. He said they would be meeting soon with Netanyahu.
“This is undoubtedly an important and rare opportunity to immediately apply sovereignty to the settlement in all [of] Judea and Samaria, as we have been demanding for a long time,” he said.
Ganz is joined in Washington by Gush Etzion Regional Council head Shlomo Ne’eman and Efrat Council head Oded Revivi, who is also Yesha’s foreign envoy. Yesha Council head and Jordan Valley Regional Council head David Elhayani is also with them.
Earlier in the day Elhayani denounced the plan, the broad contours of which were already known.
“I am amazed that my prime minister has agreed to the creation of a Palestinian state,” he warned. “This is an existential threat to the State of Israel. It spells the destruction of the settlements in Judea and Samaria. We have agreed in the ‘Deal of the Century’ to the creation of a Palestinian state.”
Elhayani said he was so upset that to prevent the danger the plan poses to the State of Israel by creating a Palestinian state, he is prepared to give up the right to annex any part of the Jordan Valley.
“I am willing to give up on Jordan Valley sovereignty in exchange for a promise that there won’t be a Palestinian state,” Elhayani said.
“We have to stop this now,” he added.
Revivi, on the other hand, has been cautious and has spoken of the positive aspects of the plan. The four met with Netanyahu about the plan on Monday night.
Netanyahu met separately on Monday with Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan, who is also in Washington and who shares the same redline as many of his colleagues. He is opposed to the creation of a Palestinian state and wants to see the application of sovereignty over all of Area C in the West bank.
But he announced his opposition early and was given a separate audience with Netanyahu.
Dagan also said he plans to solicit support for those lines among Evangelical leaders and Republican politicians.
“I think that things are not closed and won’t be closed until the last moment,” Dagan said. “We are here in Washington to strengthen the prime minister and US President Trump – to ensure that sovereignty will be applied on all the settlements in Judea and Samaria and that nothing will happen that will endanger the State of Israel or the settlements.”
On Monday, ahead of the planned unveiling of the deal, some 80 settler leaders sent Netanyahu a letter warning that they were unlikely to support the Trump deal.
In particular, they said they were concerned that 15 isolated communities would be endangered because they would be in small and untenable islands in an otherwise Palestinian area.
“In this situation, all the communities in Judea and Samaria will become enclaves, and we cannot accept this,” the settler leaders wrote.
“We cannot come to terms with a situation that gives the Palestinian Authority the authority to build right up to the gates of our communities, turning them into a right that strangles us,” they said. “If Israel does so, it will both compromise our security and the security of our families.”
In this situation, they said, even travel would not be safe.
They demanded that Israel accept only a plan that would allow for full sovereignty over all of Area C, thereby giving them the ability to continue to expand their communities and travel safely.
In response to the plan, the left-wing group Peace Now said: “Trump and Netanyahu today presented a supposed peace plan that is as detached from reality as it is eye-catching. The plan’s green light for Israel to annex isolated settlements in exchange for a perforated Palestinian state is unviable and would not bring stability. This is not how peace is built.
“Any outline that does not include the establishment of a Palestinian state on the basis of the pre-1967 lines with minor land swaps, the evacuation of deep settlements and two capitals in Jerusalem will find its way into the dustbin of history.
“The insistence of a small and extreme minority to cling to every piece of land is dragging our country to perpetuate this protracted conflict to the point that it is critically threatening Israel’s character as a Jewish and democratic state,” Peace Now said.