Settlement leader claims sovereignty won’t happen, US setting new conditions

The head of the Yesha Council says that if the U.S. doesn’t see a broad national consensus for annexation, it will not back the move.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Israeli annexation won’t take place because of a new condition set by the U.S., said Yesha council head David Elhayani on Thursday. The Yesha Council is the main representative body of the Jewish population in Judea and Samaria and the Jordan Valley.

“There won’t be sovereignty,” Elhayani told Reshet Bet’s “This Morning” radio show.

“Not because of Jordan and not because of the Palestinians – but because the Americans have set a new condition: If there won’t be broad national consensus in Israel over sovereignty, there won’t be recognition. And there won’t be [consensus] because of [Blue and White leaders] Gantz and Ashkenazi. Gantz is acting like the head of the opposition,” Elhayani said.

Elhayani said his information comes from a senior Likud official.

During the recent election campaigns, Gantz expressed support for annexing the Jordan Valley and northern Dead Sea area, but he has since said that it would be better to gain international support for the move. This is considered extremely unlikely, given the number of countries that support the Palestinian side.

The Yesha Council head caused an uproar Wednesday when he declared that President Trump was “not a friend of Israel” when it came to defending the country’s security interests because of his plan’s support for a “Palestinian terror state” in Israel’s heartland.

He was immediately chastised by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and senior members of the Likud such as Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin, who said, “David Elhayani’s crude and irresponsible comments about the U.S. president deserve all the condemnation and criticism in the world.”

On Thursday, Elhayani acknowledged the president as a friend in his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, of Israeli sovereignty on the Golan Heights, and of the fact that Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria are not per se illegal.

But he insisted that there was too much danger in pushing a Palestinian state “that would threaten Tel Aviv” and would spread over 70 percent of Judea and Samaria.

“Who doesn’t want sovereignty?” he asked rhetorically, saying that this was the “sexy” part of the plan. But “this is essentially a partition plan and a plan to evacuate settlements,” he said, noting that there were 19 isolated communities in the region “which have had a death sentence put on them.”

The Yesha Council itself is split over the Trump peace plan. Elhayani has led the opposition to it from the day of its rollout in January, due to the danger inherent in the establishment of a Palestinian state.

A third of the council think that having the U.S. recognize Israel’s sovereignty over 30 percent of Judea and Samaria is a historic moment that must be seized.

A poll released Wednesday by the Israel Democracy Institute showed that 57 percent of Jewish Israelis supported sovereignty.