Minister Akunis: I'll promote annexation and oppose a Palestinian state

Netanyahu talks peace, but not sovereignty in settlement visit

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY Minister Ofir Akunis: Israeli research has never received support to the extent that it was backed by this ministry during the past term of government. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY Minister Ofir Akunis: Israeli research has never received support to the extent that it was backed by this ministry during the past term of government.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Regional Cooperation Minister Ofir Akunis [Likud] promised to oppose a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria and to support the annexation of West Bank settlements as he opened the first day of school in the Har Bracha settlement.
“I will never agree to the establishment of a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria and I will continue to promote, with all my might, the application of sovereignty, which is an historical process that cannot be prevented,” Akunis said.
He spoke as an Israeli delegation wound up its two day trip in the United Arab Emirates to lay the groundwork for a peace deal between the two countries. Israel agreed to suspend annexation in exchange for that deal.
Prime Minister Benjami Netanyahu has argued that sovereignty is still on the table, but UAE Foreign Ministry Director of Policy Planning Jamal al-Musharakh told reporters that an Israeli agreement to halt sovereignty was a prerequisite for the establishment of normalized ties between the two countries.
Netanyahu let his feet do the talking on Tuesday morning, when he chose to open the school day in the Mevo Horon settlement, which is in the Binyamin Region.
During his visit to two separate classes he touted the UAE deal by talking with the pupils about peace and the deep connection of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel, but said nothing about sovereignty.
He left it to Binyamin Regional Council head Israel Gantz to advocate for his position on settlements. Typically, Netanyahu chooses the venue of a school in Judea and Samaria when he is trying to underscore his commitment to the settlements, such as an election period.
Tuesday’s visit to Mevo Horon comes as Netanyahu is under political siege from members of his own party for not moving ahead as promised with annexation.
Gantz told the Mevo Horon pupils that Netanyahu had turned down many first day of school invitations in favor of Mevo Horon, showing how much he cared about the settlements.
After meeting with pupils, Netanyahu held an hour-long meeting with Gantz and Mevo Horon residents to discuss issues related to the settlements, including the lack of advancement of building plans.
On Tuesday, Yesha Council head David Elhayani sent Netanyahu a letter in which it demanded that the Prime Minister convene the Higher Planing Council for Judea and Samaria. The Higher Planing Council, which is tasked with advancing and approving building plans for West Bank settlements, last met in February. Assurances to Elhayani that the planning body would meet in August never came to fruition.
The continued delay, the Yesha Council warned, would create a chain reaction that would lead to the absence of authorized plans, thereby creating the conditions of a de-facto building freeze.
This will harm settlement development, Elhayani said.
It is particularly critical to move forward with building, now that annexation has been suspended, he added.
Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan said that there are some 6,000 plans for settler homes that are awaiting advancement and approval, including in the Har Bracha settlement.
Dagan is particularly concerned about Har Bracha because it is one of the 15 settlements which under US President Donald Trump’s peace plan, would be placed in an enclave. Settlers and right-wing politicians fear that enclave settlements are vulnerable for demolition in the future.
Dagan would like to see Har Bracha transformed into a city.
During the opening of school on Tuesday he called on Netanyahu to make good on his pledge to apply sovereignty.
“We welcome peace with the United Arab Emirates and we will continue to insist on our natural and historical rights in the homeland of the Jewish people,” Akunis added.
“We are here and we will remain here,” he concluded.