Kahlon: Annex W. Bank in response to unilateralism

Likud minister joins calls for annexation if Palestinians declare statehood; "We'll also declare - as children say: 'you started it.'"

Likud Minister Moshe Kahlon 311 (photo credit: Avi Hayun)
Likud Minister Moshe Kahlon 311
(photo credit: Avi Hayun)
With the clock ticking down to an anticipated unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood, a senior Likud minister joined calls over the weekend to annex the West Bank in response to any unilateral Palestinian steps.
On Saturday night, Channel 2 released an audio recording of a meeting of the Likud’s young adult forum on Thursday, during which Welfare and Communications Minister Moshe Kahlon said that he supported such a move.
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“If they take steps, we will take steps – I think that we need to immediately annex all of the territories on that same day,” Kahlon said, to applause from his audience.
“You declared statehood? No problem. We will also declare...As children say: “You started it!” An Army Radio correspondent sat in on the meeting, which was considered an internal party event, and recorded the minister’s comments.
Kahlon is not, however, the first Likud minister to float the idea in recent days, following the Palestinian announcement of an Egyptian-brokered reconciliation agreement between Fatah and Hamas.
On Wednesday, Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein said that because “the Palestinian Authority chose a strategy of terror and unilateralism, Israel too must present an initiative: to assert Israeli authority throughout the entire Land of Israel and put an end to the idea of a Palestinian state.”
On Thursday, Kahlon reassured his audience that the government had maintained its commitment to post-moratorium building in the West Bank.
“There is building outside the settlement blocs, and it is happening at a fast pace,” he said.
It was not enough, Kahlon said, blaming Defense Minister Ehud Barak of Labor for construction delays, but adding that these problems “are being addressed daily by MKs from the correct side of Likud.”
Kahlon also suggested that the government cut the flow of tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority that Israel collects on its behalf. “They have 12 percent [economic] growth, which comes from us. That means that they have a lot to lose,” he said.
In this, too, Kahlon repeated calls already heard within the Likud’s right-wing. Last week, MK Miri Regev responded to reports of the Hamas-Fatah alliance by calling for an urgent meeting of the Knesset’s Joint Committee for the Defense Budget, on which she sits, to end the transfer of billions of shekels of tax revenues to the PA.