US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's support of Israel’s right to apply sovereignty over West Bank settlements should be viewed as a call to action by the Israeli government, Beit El Council head Shai Alon said.
He urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to apply sovereignty now.
“There are no more excuses. It’s time for action. The ball is in the new government’s court. If sovereignty doesn’t happen now, who knows when the next opportunity will come around,” he said.
Some settlers like Alon, saw his statement in Washington on Wednesday night, as a green light for Israel to move forward already with annexation, even though the US has told Israel to wait until the completion of a joint mapping process with regard to the territory slated for sovereignty.
Netanyahu is already under pressure from the settlers and the right-wing politicians to apply sovereignty to the settlements irrespective of US approval.
Pompeo’s words, that sovereignty “is an Israeli decision,” seemed to echo that sentiment.
Yeaha Council head David Elhayani said that Pompeo certainly gave added weight to both his support and US support for such a step. He was pleased to hear that Pompeo’s attitude toward sovereignty seemed to mire his own; that this step was an internal issue.
Settlers have long argued that sovereignty is about Jewish history, heritage and religion and should be divorced from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Unfortunately, Elhayani said, he believed that the statement reflected Pompeo’s views, but did not mean that US special envoy Jared Kushner concurred or that the need for a mapping process was off the table.
There was likely “nothing behind it,” Elhayani said.
Pompeo’s statement was proof that he is a “good friend” of Israel,” he said.
Efrat Council head Oded Revivi also said that he believed that it was confirmation of what was known, “sovereignty is on the table,” but it still needs to be determined “how and when,” he said.
The Israeli left-wing group B’Tselem, however, said that it believed that Pompeo’s statement would allow more immediate action. The US is not the only cause for a delay in annexation. Under the terms of the coalition agreement, Israel has to wait until at least July 1, before taking action.
B’Tselem said that it seemed like Israel no longer needed to wait.
“Today’s announcement by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo closes the gap between what Israel – with American support – says, and what both governments do. De-facto annexation and the reality of Apartheid are not waiting for July 1: they have long since arrived. At least Jerusalem and Washington are ceasing to lie about their intentions – and actions,” B’Tselem said.
“The international community must stop stuttering and take action against the reality already in place, independent of any additional Israeli action,” B’Tselem said.