Netanyahu urges Israel settler leaders to support annexation

Racial slurs on the wall of a mosque sprayed by Jewish settlers in Jerusalem (Mostafa Alkharouf -Anadolu Agency)

Middle East Monitor  /  June 3, 2020

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a meeting yesterday with the reluctant heads of the settler movement to support the “historic opportunity” to annex parts of the occupied West Bank, reported the Times of Israel.

Over the past weeks, settlers have opposed the conditions stated in US President Donald Trump’s plan arguing it would open the door for a Palestinian state while ending any expansion of Israeli settlements in much of the occupied West Bank.

Trump’s plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace includes Israel keeping most of its settlements in the occupied West Bank, territory that Palestinians seek for a state.

Palestinians have rejected Trump’s proposal. All settlements are considered illegal under international law.

According to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office, Netanyahu told the settler leaders that they were standing before a “historic opportunity to apply sovereignty over Judea and Samaria”, in reference to the occupied West Bank.

“The Prime Minister said discussions with the Americans are still ongoing,” the statement added.

Some of the settler leaders who participated in the meeting that took place in Jerusalem included the occupied West Bank Israeli Settlement (Yesha) Council chairman and Jordan Valley Regional Council chairman David Elhayani and Samaria Regional Council chairman Yossi Dagan.

“Either the settlements have a future or the Palestinian state does — but not both,” right-wing lawmaker Bezalel Smotrich told The New York Times.

Netanyahu has repeatedly said he plans to move forward with unilaterally annexing these areas beginning next month, though the US has reportedly told him to “slow the process”.