Danon touts bill to annex Judea and Samaria

Former Yesha leader Naftali Bennett urges Likud to make annexation of Area C an election platform.

Jordan valley settlement 311 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Jordan valley settlement 311
(photo credit: REUTERS)
MK Danny Danon has renewed his efforts to pass a Knesset bill annexing Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, so that Israeli law fully applies to them.
In light of the stalled Israeli- Palestinian peace process, now is the time to push forward with the initiative that he began in September, Danon told The Jerusalem Post.
“This is a historic opportunity to correct an injustice,” he said on Thursday.
Danon added that he hoped to bring the matter before the Ministerial Committee on Legislative in a matter of weeks.
An Israeli official said that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu would block the initiative.
But Danon said the prime minister’s position on the matter was not so clear.
Netanyahu opened the door for this kind of proposal already two years ago, when he threatened Israeli unilateral actions in response to the Palestinians’ unilateral pursuit of statehood, Danon said.
By refusing to negotiate with Israel, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has climbed out on a limb, Danon said. That tree “could bear fruit for the Zionist enterprise.”
Israel “has to seize this opportunity with both hands,” he said.
Since December 2008, the Palestinians have negotiated with Israel for two brief periods, the first in September 2010 and the second last month.
But at the end of January, the Palestinians walked away from the fledgling talks in Amman, and no date has been set to continue them.
The largely frozen peace process has fed a growing movement among right-wing lawmakers to end military rule in Area C of the West Bank, where the Israeli settlements are located, and fully apply Israeli law there.
MK Uri Ariel (National Union) has threatened to amend every Knesset law so they apply to Area C, thereby de facto annexing it.
More than half of the Likud’s 27 MKs have endorsed the idea, including Ministers Gilad Erdan, Yisrael Katz, Moshe Kahlon and Yuli Edelstein.
Still, it is unclear if these cabinet ministers would support Danon’s bill, which also calls for annulling all agreements with the Palestinians.
Edelstein said that while he agreed with Danon in principle, some of the agreements with the Palestinians, particularly with regard to security, were important.
Separate from Danon’s work on the issue, Naftali Bennett, the co-founder of the right-wing NGO My Israel, has circulated a plan to annex Judea and Samaria.
As a Likud member, he said, he wants to see his party adopt the plan as part of its platform for the next election.
“The Likud is in limbo,” he said.
“No one understands its platform. Is it for or is it against a Palestinian state?” he asked.
Unlike Danon’s plan, Bennett said he would annex all of Area C. He would offer Israeli citizenship to the 48,000 Palestinians who live in Area C.
Granting citizenship to these Palestinians would eliminate all talk of Israel as an apartheid state, he said.
But he added that Palestinian refugees who live outside of Area C would not be able to move there.
Under his plan, he said, the Palestinian Authority would remain in control of Areas A and B, where there are no Jewish communities.
“I realize that the world won’t recognize it, but they have not recognized Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights or the Western Wall,” he said.
Bennett, who resigned at the end of December from his post as the director-general of the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, said that he realized that annexation of Area C was not a perfect solution.
“But I do not think there is an ultimate solution,” he said.
The Israelis and the Palestinians are like a married couple who do not like each other but still have to live together, he said.
“The question is, ‘How do we spend the next 20 years in the best way possible?’” he said.