Netanyahu says he will annex West Bank if re-elected

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to the media in Ramat Gan, Israel, Feb. 21, 2019. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said during a live television interview that he is considering annexing the West Bank if he is re-elected prime minister in this week’s national elections.

In an interview with Channel 12’s “Meet the Press,” Netanyahu told host Rina Matzliah on Saturday night that after the United States’ recognition last week of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, discussions are now underway about annexation of all or parts of the West Bank.

“Will we move ahead to the next stage? Yes. I will extend sovereignty but I don’t distinguish between the settlement blocs and the isolated ones, because each settlement is Israeli and I will not hand it over to Palestinian sovereignty,” he said. “I will not divide Jerusalem, I will not evacuate any community and I will make sure we control the territory west of Jordan.”

“I am concerned about the Israeli government, but I am also concerned about Israel’s security, and I am not going to hand over the heart of the State of Israel,” he said.

In an interview broadcast on Friday night on Channel 13, that had been taped two days earlier, Netanyahu also said that while he does not know the exact details of the Trump administration’s proposed peace deal with the Palestinians — which is expected to be unveiled after Israel’s national elections this week — he had made clear to President Donald Trump that he is not prepared to evacuate “a single person” from any West Bank settlement. He said that if the evacuation of settlements is part of the plan it “will not happen.”

He also called Trump “the best friend Israel has had” in the White House.

JTA