Right-wing party rejects US conditions for annexing Judea and Samaria

Right wing party cites American conditions for annexation as one of the reasons it did not join Netanyahu’s national unity government.

By Paul Shindman

The conditions America is imposing on Israel in order for the Trump Administration to recognize the proposed annexation of settlements by Israel are among the reasons the right-wing Yemina party is not joining Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, Maariv reported Sunday.

In an interview published last week in the Israel Hayom newspaper, U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman strongly hinted that the Trump administration would recognize Israeli annexation of settlements in Judea and Samaria so long as certain conditions were met.

Among the conditions are a freeze on settlement expansion on those towns Israel will not annex and an agreement that the prime minister will negotiate with the Palestinians on the basis of the Trump plan, which includes a future Palestinian state – two policies to which Yemina says it cannot agree.

While other right-wing supporters also did not approve of these the two conditions, it was a risk worth taking because, in their opinion, a future Palestinian state will likely never come out of the Trump plan. The Palestinian Authority in Ramallah rejected the plan outright, and the Hamas terror group that controls Gaza is not interested in any peace plan, let alone the reconciliation with the PA required to form an independent state before the four-year time frame of the Trump plan expires.

“I am receiving lots of comments from our activists and supporters as well as from other parties, which strengthen us in our decision to go to the opposition with our heads up and present a genuine right-wing alternative to the left-wing government that is going to stand here headed by Netanyahu,” Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich tweeted. “It is not a shame to serve the people of Israel from the opposition.”

American leaders had hinted they would not oppose Israeli annexation in Judea and Samaria, but Friedman was the first to voice actual conditions that Israel would have to meet to get American recognition of any decision to declare sovereignty over settlements.  That included promises to not expand hosuing, but only build up on existing buildings in any settlements outside those that are annexed.

“In this situation, it is better for Yemina to remain in opposition than for a relatively short time to be faced with the dilemma of supporting something that is against the party’s and the sector’s ideology or to support it up from within the government.”