Israeli right wing leaders–Israel should just ignore Trump on issue of settlement annexation
“The application of Jewish sovereignty over Judea and Samaria is of supreme value, even more so than Israeli relations with the US,” Jerusalem Affairs Minister Ze’ev Elkin said.
Israel should ignore United States opposition and push forward on legislation to annex West Bank settlements, right-wing politicians said on Tuesday.
“Application of sovereignty [in Area C of the West Bank] is an existential issue for the state of Israel,” Jerusalem Affairs Minister Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) said.
It is in Israel’s interest to maintain strong ties with the US, Elkin said as he spoke at the 15th annual Jerusalem conference sponsored by the B’sheva newspapers group.
“But we have other interests,” he said.
“I think the application of sovereignty over Judea and Samaria is of supreme value, even more so than [Israeli] interests in relations with the United States,” Elkin said.
He recalled that former prime minister Menachem Begin ignored the opposition of former US president Ronald Regean and applied Israeli law to the Golan Heights, a move that effectively annexed the area which had been part of Syria prior to the Six-Day War in 1967.
Elkin said that today, no one remembers the US reaction, which was to suspend its strategic cooperation agreement.
The US has a legitimate right to pursue its own interests, even when they ran counter to Israel’s, and Israel has a right to likewise pursue its interests even when it rans counter to those of the Trump administration, Elkin said.
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked [Bayit Yehudi] said there will never be support for or an opportune time to apply sovereignty to settlements in Judea and Samaria.
“The international community has never supported this step. It is hard to see a situation in which the international community would sanction it,” said Shaked.
She urged Netanyahu to support the legislative drive to apply sovereignty to the West Bank settlements, initiated by parliamentarians Yoav Kisch (Likud) and Bezalel Smotrich (Bayit Yehudi) who co-chair the Land of Israel Caucus.
It had been scheduled to come to a vote at the Ministerial Legislative Committee on Sunday, but Netanyahu persuaded the coalition chairs to delay the matter due to the security situation on the northern border.
He said he wanted to coordinate the matter with the US and said he had been in talks with the Trump Administration about the issue of annexation.
The White House issued an immediate rebuke.
“Reports that the United States discussed with Israel an annexation plan for the West Bank are false,” White House spokesman Josh Raffel said on Monday. “The United States and Israel have never discussed such a proposal, and the president’s focus remains squarely on his Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative,” he said.
Likud politician Gideon Sa’ar who is presumed to be a future prime ministerial candidate also told the Jerusalem conference that Israel would never receive support for such a step.
Sa’ar quoted the rabbinic sage Hillel and said, “if not now, when?”
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