Netanyahu Reiterates Plan to Annex Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria

PM Netanyahu in Elkana. Photo courtesy of Haim Zach (Israeli GPO)

With elections just weeks away in Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is pushing for Israeli sovereignty over all the Jewish communities in the Biblical heartland of Judea and Samaria. Those communities—also known as settlements—are located in the so-called West Bank, which is also claimed by the Palestinians. On Sunday, while in the settlement of Elkana, Netanyahu was quoted by a press release as saying, “This is the old, original home of the Jewish people and we will build more in Elkana. We will not uproot anyone here… and with G-d’s help we will apply Jewish sovereignty over all communities as part of the land of Israel and the State of Israel.”

Netanyahu also referred to a major community destroyed in the 2005 Gaza disengagement, in which Israel withdrew from multiple communities in the Gaza Strip in an effort to step towards peace with the Palestinians, saying, “There will be no more Gush Katif; there will be no more uprooting.”

The land-for-peace model has long claimed that Israel could surrender territory to the Palestinians in exchange for a peace accord. However, the 2005 Gaza disengagement and multiple rounds of negotiations with the Palestinians based on that premise have yet to yield peace—something Netanyahu highlighted in Sunday’s comments.

“The Palestinians, in their refusal to recognize Zionism [Jewish nationalism], are the root of the conflict, as is their refusal to recognize the rights of the Jews to settle in any part of the land of Israel and their repeated rejection of every possible solution,” said Netanyahu.

“Even now, the [United States President Donald] Trump plan, he has not even made it known, and they have already rejected it. They are not prepared to recognize the right of the Jews to exist here in a sovereign state on any territory. This is the root of the conflict; therefore, I emphasize this and strive for this, that the recognition of the national state of the Jewish People must be demanded of them. This is the first—but not the last—component of any solution.”

Netanyahu, noting that any peace deal may not last forever, also called for Israel to maintain “security in our hands, west of the Jordan [River]” to counter terrorism and other threats.

The Trump Middle East peace plan, also known as “the Deal of the Century”, is expected to be unveiled after the Israeli elections. Netanyahu has expressed a wait-and-see approach while remaining generally open to the plan, whereas the Palestinian government has rejected it outright as part of their political conflict with the Americans after Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

In the mainstream hypothetical peace proposals, Jerusalem is envisioned as the capital of Israel and a Palestinian state, while Israel has long housed their parliament and government leadership in Jerusalem. Nonetheless, the Palestinians were outraged over Trump’s move.

That Palestinian rejectionist approach is a microcosm of the broader Palestinian rejection of Jewish sovereignty in any part Israel, which Netanyahu repeatedly called the “root of the conflict” on Sunday.

“Because of this, they have opposed a Jewish presence within any borders at all, regardless of [whether it is in] Judea and Samaria [or elsewhere in Israel],” said Netanyahu. “If you want to resolve the conflict, the Palestinians will need, first of all, to recognize Israel as the national state of the Jewish people. This is what is delaying a solution, and as long as they do not recognize, we will be unable to reach a solution.”

(By Joshua Spurlock,, September 2, 2019)

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