The application of sovereignty over West Bank settlements is in jeopardy unless Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu forms a right-wing 61 member government with MKs Yoaz Hendel and Zvi Hauser now, settlers warned on Monday.
“The situation is now in their hands,” Yesah director-general Yigal Dilmoni told The Jerusalem Post.
Yesha leaders spoke as the deadline loomed for Netanyahu and Blue and White Party head Benny Gantz to form a unity government.
Such a unity government could also support the annexation of West Bank settlements, even though Gantz has opposed it, because the Yisrael Beytenu part would vote in its favor from the opposition.
But settlers feel that a right-wing government with Hendel and Hauser of the Derech Eretz Party, provides a more secure path, particularly given Gantz opposition to unilateral annexation.
In the last days they have held telephone calls and meetings to advance that plan. On Monday Yesha Council head and Jordan Valley Regional Council head David Elhayani, Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan and Binyamin Regional Council head Israel Ganz met with Hendel. Elhayani held a separate telephone call with Hauser this week. The trio is also expected to meet with Netanyahu.
“We want to strengthen the prime minister’s ability to apply sovereignty on all the settlements in Judea and Samaria, including the Jordan Valley,” the three Yesha leaders said in a statement after the Hendel meeting.
At present Hendel and Hauser have not agreed to join a right-wing Netanyahu led government. On Monday night Netanyahu and Gantz met to discuss the option of a unity government.
So far Netanyahu’s right-wing bloc has only 59 seats. He would need both Hendel and Hauser to reach 61, but the two men have time to come to such an agreement and are expected not to take any immediate action.
If Netanyahu fails to clinch deal for a government by Wednesday at midnight, then the issue moves to the Knesset. There is a 21-day period by which any parliamentarian can form a government with the support of 61 parliamentarians.
If that fails, the country moves to a forth election.
“It’s a risk we can’t afford to take,” Dilmoni said.
Three elections have weakened the councils and the regional councils in Judea and Samaria because the governmental process has been stymied since the country first pledged into elections in December 2018.
The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has made the situation worse, Dilmoni said.
The Yesha leaders see an immediate option of 61 parliamentarians and does not want to leave anything to chance.
“We are calling on all the sides to create a [right-wing] government to extract Israel from the COVID-19, to restore the economy and to apply sovereignty to Judea and Samaria,” the Yesha leaders said.
Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich (Yamina) said that the issue of sovereignty had little to do with the make up of the government, since there were enough Knesset votes for sovereignty in the current Knesset. It should also be taken into account that the matter dose not necessarily need to come before the Knesset.
“What has delayed the matter [sovereignty] until now is coordination with the Americans,” Bezalel said.
The right-wing NGO My Israel, initially formed by Defense Minister and Yamina Party head Naftali Bennett prior to his entry into politics, also sent a letter to Netanyahu, as well as to the Likud Party, warning against a union with the Blue and White party.
A unity government should not come at the expense of sovereignty, My Israel Chairwoman Sara Haetzni-Cohen wrote. “The window of time for sovereignty to be applies is very narrow,” she wrote. There is. an unprecedented opportunity to apply sovereignty to Judea and Samaria that could be lost, Haetzni-Cohen added.
To Netanyahu she said, ”the national camp stands behind you, but not at any cost.”