The prime minister said he told Trump he wouldn’t evict “a single person” from Judea and Samaria. Election challengers dismiss Netanyahu’s comments as campaign propaganda.
By David Jablinowitz, World Israel News Staff
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he told U.S. President Donald Trump that he will not evict even “a single person” from Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria. The prime minister was responding to a question about the Trump peace plan during a Channel 13 interview.
The American plan on Israeli-Palestinian peace is expected to be announced in the coming weeks, in the aftermath of Tuesday’s parliamentary election in Israel. In the lead-up to the vote for the Knesset, Mr. Netanyahu has been granting a series of interviews.
He said that he also insists that Israel maintain “control of all the territory to the west of the Jordan” River.
In a Channel 12 interview, the prime minister was asked, on the heels of the U.S recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, whether the Israeli government would annex Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria.
“You are asking whether we are moving on to the next stage – the answer is yes, we will move to the next stage,” he said. “I am going to extend [Israeli] sovereignty,” Mr. Netanyahu added, saying that he did not distinguish between Israeli communities located in blocs and those which are isolated elsewhere in Judea and Samaria.
Like the Golan Heights, Israel captured Judea and Samaria in the 1967 war, when Arab armies had amassed military forces on their borders with Israel. The Golan was under Syrian control; Judea and Samaria was occupied by Jordan.
The prime minister’s challengers in Tuesday’s election have dismissed the incumbent’s comments as campaign propaganda.
Mr. Netanyahu’s comments are seen as attempting to target voters who might be wavering over whether to vote for the prime minister’s party, the Likud, or one of the smaller right-wing parties.
Before the last Knesset election, in 2015, Mr. Netanyahu urged right-wing voters to cast their ballots for his party, warning that more votes for smaller factions would destabilize the future government and even allow the left of the political spectrum to take over. His calls were heeded to the extent that the Likud received more parliamentary seats than predicted in pre-election polling at the expense of a smaller right-wing faction, Jewish Home.
Earlier in this campaign, the prime minister urged some of the smaller right-wing parties to unite, so that splinter votes would not go to waste if some smaller lists did not receive enough support to even cross the threshold of 3.25 percent of the vote necessary to enter the Knesset.
However, Mr. Netanyahu did not himself heed calls to integrate some of the smaller parties into the Likud’s list. Parties headed by Finance Minister Moshe Kachlon and former defense minister Avigdor Liberman risk falling short of gaining enough votes to enter parliament.
This complicated right-wing landscape is causing the prime minister to warn followers against complacency, insisting that his victory is not certain.
Referring to the leaders of the center-left Blue and White list, Mr. Netanyahu told Likud activists on Friday: “At the moment, [Yair] Lapid and [Benny] Gantz are leading us by four or five mandates. If that doesn’t change,” said the prime minister, “Lapid and Gantz will break the right-wing bloc and form a left-wing government.”