Bennett: Netanyahu missed a once-in-century opportunity to annex

Settlers to Netanyahu: ‘You betrayed us’

‘ONE OF the biggest beneficiaries of that way of thinking [expanding national-religious political scope] was Naftali Bennett (seen May 14).’  (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
‘ONE OF the biggest beneficiaries of that way of thinking [expanding national-religious political scope] was Naftali Bennett (seen May 14).’
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu missed a historic and “once-in-a-century opportunity” to apply sovereignty to the settlements, Yamina Party head Naftali Bennett said Thursday.
“It is tragic that Netanyahu did not grasp the moment nor muster the courage to apply sovereignty to even a centimeter of the Land of Israel,” he said.
Still, “sovereignty over the territories of our homeland is yet to come, but from elsewhere,” he added.
Bennett acknowledged the enormity of the moment, saying: “I welcome the agreement, which is an official stamp of acknowledgment” to the good relations that exist with the United Arab Emirates. I thank [US President Donald] Trump for his consistent actions on behalf of the State of Israel.
“Tonight, I congratulate [Emirati Crown Prince] Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed on his leadership,” he said. “Israel has a lot to contribute to the region. It is good that relations between the two countries are no longer held hostage to Palestinian rejections.”
Sovereignty should not have been the price of that agreement, Bennett said.
“It is unfortunate that Netanyahu missed a once-in-a-century opportunity to apply Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley, Ma’aleh Adumim, Beit El and the rest of the Israeli settlements,” he said.
Two settler leaders who had opposed Trump’s annexation plan and encouraged Netanyahu to annex the settlements regardless, were less polite.
Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan, who yields power within the Likud Party, threatened that he and the Right would withdraw their electoral support from Netanyahu.
If Netanyahu sells out Judea and Samaria, then “he cuts off the political branch on which he sits and [undermines] the continuation of his rule,” Dagan said.
Yesha Council and Jordan Valley Regional Council head David Elhayani said of Netanyahu, “You betrayed us.” Netanyahu “deceived us. He has deceived half a million residents of the area and hundreds of thousands of voters.”
“Mr. Prime Minister, you have betrayed my trust and that of the residents of Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley,” he said. “You have sold us a bill of goods for the last year. Do not expect us to be silent.”
“Do not tell us that in a few months there will be sovereignty, because trust in you has expired,” Elhayani said.
The announcement that sovereignty had been suspended came after three election cycles, the last two of which saw Netanyahu promise the application of sovereignty over all the settlements. In the last election, he promised to do it almost immediately.
Elhayani and Dagan campaigned for Netanyahu during the elections. They were also with him in Washington when Trump unveiled his peace plan, which allowed for Israel to annex up to 30% of the West Bank where all the settlements are located.
Dagan for the last two weeks has almost daily hosted politicians and secured their pledges for sovereignty. Netanyahu has pulled the wool over everyone’s eyes, he said.
“If Benjamin Netanyahu has sold out sovereignty in exchange for a piece of paper from a country that has never threatened Israel, then it is a scam,” Dagan said.
Trump has often referred to his peace plan as the “Deal of the Century.”
Trump’s plan was “not the ‘Deal of the Century’ but the scam of the century,” Dagan said. “If Netanyahu is trying to sell air to the public, then air is what they will give back to him.”
Sovereignty has been Netanyahu’s best defense against voices from the Left who have said he is no longer worthy of leading the country, he said, alluding to Netanyahu’s upcoming trial for corruption.
“There is nothing that threatens the prime minister’s rule more than turning sovereignty into a scam of the century,” Dagan said.
Efrat Council head Oded Revivi, who supports both sovereignty and the Trump peace plan, was one of the few voices in the settler movement who spoke out Thursday in support of the pending deal with the UAE, even if it meant the loss of sovereignty.
“Postponing the application of Israeli law is a fair price to pay for a peace agreement with the United Arab Emirates,” he said.
Revivi said he did not believe this meant that sovereignty was off the table, noting that what was most significant was the Trump administration’s belief that settlements were not an obstacle to peace.
“I am sure that this change in perception that the settlements are not an obstacle to peace will continue to lead us in the future, and we should therefore prepare ourselves to apply Israeli law in Judea and Samaria,” Revivi said.