Israel minister: ‘We will not relinquish a single centimetre of the land of Israel to Arabs’

Israel’s newly appointed defence minister, Naftali Bennett (AFP)

Middle East Monitor  /  January 27, 2020

Israeli Defence Minister Naftali Bennet sounded a defiant note yesterday ahead of the expected publication this week of the Trump administration’s peace plan for the region, reported Haaretz.

In no case, under no condition, will we allow for the establishment of a Palestinian state or recognition of such a state and we will not relinquish a single centimetre of the land of Israel to Arabs,

said Bennett, speaking in Ariel, a major settlement in the occupied West Bank.

The minister additionally clarified that “under no condition” will Israel “allow for the establishment of a Palestinian state”.

Reports suggest that the White House will unveil the political contours of its plan tomorrow, with both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and opposition leader Benny Gantz both in Washington to hold talks with President Donald Trump.

“Before us, before the government, is a once in a lifetime chance, once in 50 years, to extend Israeli law over half a million citizens and over the Jordan Valley and Gush Etzion,” declared Bennett.

“This has been our dream for so many years. They’re asking what position we will take,” he added. “Our answer: Annexation – we support the plan. No annexation – we won’t support the plan.”

Bennett, a long-term proponent of unilateral annexation of portions of the occupied West Bank, called for the Israeli authorities to take action.

“In another week here, the city of Ariel will able to finally be an official part of the state, just like Tel Aviv,” he said. “If that happens, the cabinet will fully support the ‘deal of the century’.”

The minister’s remarks came as Netanyahu departed for the US, telling reporters as he left: “Five years ago I appeared before Congress in Washington because I had to stand up to a plan developed by an American president,” referring to Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran.

“I’ve believed that plan jeopardised Israel’s mere existence,” Netanyahu added. “Today I’m headed to bring back a plan, which I believe will advance Israel’s interests. On Tuesday we’ll make history.”