Netanyahu vows to annex Hebron, Kiryat Arba after election

Speaking to Efi Triger on Army Radio's Good Morning Israel program, Netanyahu went farther than he did just 11 days ago, when he visited Hebron.

A BULLDOZER at work in Kiryat Arba, near Hebron (photo credit: REUTERS)
A BULLDOZER at work in Kiryat Arba, near Hebron
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said publicly for the first time on Monday morning that if re-elected on Tuesday, he would annex Kiryat Arba and the Jewish areas of Hebron.
Speaking to Efi Triger on Army Radio’s “Good Morning Israel” program, Netanyahu went farther than he did just 11 days ago, when he visited Hebron and delivered a historic speech just outside the Tomb of the Patriarchs.
Expectations had been high that he would use the platform to declare his intention to apply Israeli sovereignty to the mostly Palestinian city, or at least to the 4% of the city of that includes the Tomb of the Patriarchs and the section where the Jewish community lives.
But no such pledge was forthcoming.
On Monday morning, however, with one day left to go until the election, Triger asked him: “Kiryat Arba and the Jewish community in Hebron will be annexed?”
Netanyahu responded: “Of course. They will be part of Israel. But I need a mandate to execute this plan.”
He told Army Radio that he had spoken of his sovereignty plan for West Bank settlements with US President Donald Trump.
“I said this to Trump: I plan to apply sovereignty on all of the settlements – including in the blocs, and the territory [around them] – and all the settlements and sites that have importance from a security or Israeli heritage perspective,” Netanyahu said.
“I said that no one will be uprooted, I won’t recognize the [Palestinian] right of return and I said that Jerusalem must remain united. All these things were said,” the prime minister added.
Netanyahu repeated for Triger something he has been saying for weeks: that Trump plans to release his peace plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict very soon after the election.
“We are determining Israel’s final borders, so it has strategic depth and heights,” he said.
Last week, Netanyahu unveiled a plan to annex 31 West Bank settlements, including 22 in the Jordan Valley, five in the Megilot region of the Dead Sea and four in the Binyamin region of the West Bank. He said he would do so unilaterally as soon as a new government was formed and asked those who support such a plan to vote for him.
At the same time, he has said that he would apply sovereignty to all the West Bank settlements – but would do so as much as possible in conjunction with Trump’s peace plan.
On Sunday, Netanyahu held a first-ever cabinet meeting in the Jordan Valley, in which he spoke of his sovereignty plan for the area. The cabinet in that meeting gave its initial approval to the creation of a new Jordan Valley settlement called Mevo’ot Yericho.
Netanyahu also spoke of his overall sovereignty plans for West Bank settlements. He did not clarify exact details of the plan, but has dropped information in various media interviews he has done over the last few days, including the Army Radio interview on Monday morning.
He also promised, in an Arutz 7 interview on Thursday, to apply sovereignty to the E1 area of Ma’aleh Adumim. US pressure has prevented Israel from building in that area for the last 25 years.
The Palestinians hold that all that area from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea, including the Jordan Valley, is an essential part of their future state. They have been successful, particularly in persuading the US that E1 is an existentially important territory for their state.
Netanyahu has in the past promised to build there, but has never done so. Now, in the final days to the election, he has added sovereignty over E1, along with the Jewish neighborhood of Hebron, to the wish list he has promised right-wing voters.