Settlers: Annex Area C in response to PA's UN bid

MKs Eldad, Ben-Ari to burn Palestinian flag at east J'lem protest; Left-wing groups to hold rally in support of statehood effort.

MK Arieh Eldad 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
MK Arieh Eldad 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Settlers and right-wing activists called on Israel to annex Area C and threatened to burn the Palestinian flag, in response to Palestinian plans to Thursday to ask the UN General Assembly to grant it the status of non-member state.
Left-wing Israelis, in turn, planned to rally in Tel Aviv in support of the Palestinian move, which constitutes a de facto UN recognition of Palestinian statehood.
Settlers argued that now was the moment to strengthen Israel’s hold on the West Bank, particularly since the Palestinian bid was an abrogation of the 1993 Oslo Accord.
“We’re concerned by Israel’s lack of response to this provocative Palestinian step that is akin to a declaration of diplomatic warfare,” said Dani Dayan, who heads the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip.
He added that if the Palestinians knew Israel’s reaction in advance, they would be deterred from turning to the UN.
On Wednesday, Dayan sent Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu a letter in which he urged him to annex Area C of the West Bank and to prevent any Palestinian Authority action in that area.
Dayan also called on Netanyahu to authorize the Levi Report, which advocates transforming West Bank outposts into legal settlements and states that Israeli building in Area C is legal under international law.
Samaria Citizens Committee head Benny Katzover and Binyamin Citizens Committee head Itzik Shadmi wrote letters to parliamentarians in the Likud and Yisrael Beytenu.
Katzover and Shadmi called for creating new settlements, authorizing frozen zoning plans for existing ones and approving new public housing in West Bank Jewish communities.
But in Tel Aviv, a coalition of peace groups said that they supported the Palestinian initiative as an important step toward a two-state solution.
Groups such as Peace Now, Gush Shalom, Machsom Watch, Ir Amim and Combatants for Peace plan to hold a rally at 6 p.m. on Thursday outside Independence Hall on Rothchild Boulevard in Tel Aviv.
Peace Now wrote a letter to Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman and Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein in support of the Palestinian bid.
It urged the two ministers to turn the Palestinian bid from diplomatic defeat into victory, by supporting it and claiming it as an Israeli achievement.
In its letter, the group said that a careful reading of the text shows that it supports the Israeli position of a negotiated two-state solution, in which all the core issues would be decided during those talks.
It added that Israel should have particularly highlighted the fact that in the document the Palestinian Liberation Organization appears to recognize that Jerusalem would be a shared capital by both states.
Uri Avnery of Gush Shalom said that the UN vote was a reason to celebrate.
“The occupation is a heavy weight around Israel’s neck, dragging us into the depths of brutality, extremism and racism, and utterly corrupting our society. Liberating the Palestinians from the yoke of occupation will liberate the State of Israel from being an occupying and oppressive state,” Avnery said.
Alon Liel, a former Foreign Ministry director-general, said he supported the Palestinian initiative and planned to speak in its favor at the Tel Aviv rally.
He said he would have preferred a two-state solution born out of negotiations, rather than a unilateral UN declaration.
But, in light of the frozen peace process, it was better to have a Palestinian state, Liel said. He added that he hoped it would reignite the peace process and lead to a final resolution of the conflict.
Liel said he was not afraid of a Palestinian state born outside of the peace process that was hostile to Israel.
When Israel was created in 1948, all the neighboring states were hostile, and now again, they are still hostile, he said.
As an Israeli, he said, he does not want to control the lives of the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.
Liel added that a Palestinian state was the best way to ensure that Israel remained a Jewish and democratic state.
But right-wing parliamentarians Arieh Eldad and Michael Ben-Ari, who are part of the National Union in the current Knesset but have found a breakaway party called Strong Israel, said they believed that a Palestinian state and the UN measure were dangerous for Israel.
The two parliamentarians, along with Strong Israel activists, plan to hold a small rally at 4 p.m. on Thursday in front of the east Jerusalem UN offices, where they will burn a Palestinian flag.
Eldad accused Netanyahu of crumpling like a rag in the face of the Palestinian UN bid, rather than taking a strong stand.
Israel should announce that this step cancels the 1993 Oslo Accord, he said.
It is not enough to oppose the bid, he said, adding that “the PA should now also be declared illegal and their flags should be burned.”
“Burning the Palestinian flag sends an unequivocal message. There never was a Palestinian state and there never will be,” Eldad continued.
“The Palestinian flag is a tool to eliminate the State of Israel, and therefore the flag needs to burned, and what it stands for must be destroyed. Without any hesitations, instead of faltering, the State of Israel has to send a clear message.”
He added that he hoped the next government, would create a situation by which the PA ceased to exist.