Israeli media reported on Monday that senior Israeli officials are severely critical of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's suggestion to accept for Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank to remain inside any potential Palestinian state.
According to the Times of Israel, Netanyahu's statement is creating a rift between the prime minister and right-wing politicians. An official in Netanyahu's office has stated that, "members of the government who disagree with the prime minister are free to leave at any time."
Israeli Minister of the Economy and Head of the Jewish Home Party Naftali Bennett called for Netanyahu to rule out his settlement proposal. He argued that: "The idea of Jewish settlements under Palestinian sovereignty… is very dangerous and reflects a loss of marbles and values."
Bennett continued: "We did not return to the Land of Israel, after 2,000 years of longing, to live under the government of Mahmoud Abbas. Whoever advocates for the idea of Jewish life in Israel under Palestinian rule is undermining our ability to sit in Tel Aviv."
Meanwhile, Deputy Israeli Defence Minister Danny Danon also refused the possibility of Israelis living under Palestinian control, saying that "I would not wish for my enemies to live under Palestinian sovereignty," adding that, "We will not abandon settlers behind enemy lines." He called for those who support the proposal to visit the Gaza Strip to see the level of hostility to Jews.
Deputy Israeli Foreign Minister Ze'ev Elkin likewise criticised the remarks, pointing out that: "Only someone deluded enough to believe the lion is ready to lie with the lamb could abandon hundreds of thousands of people to the mercy of those who enabled the lynching in Ramallah."
Elkin also remarked that the person who is giving such advice to Netanyahu is trying to cause rifts between him and the Likud Party.
According to the Council for European Palestinian Relations, there are currently 121 Israeli settlements and approximately 102 Israeli outposts built illegally on occupied Palestinian land. These settlements and outposts are inhabited by a population of some 462,000 Israeli settlers.
Source: Maariv, Times of Israel