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Israel's Bennett: Major settlement blocs to be annexed in January

The leader of the Orthodox-nationalist Jewish Home party, Naftali Bennett, said yesterday that Israeli government policy will change with the arrival of the Trump administration.

"This is what government will be. From January 20, there'll be a different policy in the government," Bennett said in an interview with Israel's Channel 2. He repeated a call that Israel annex most of the West Bank.

Speaking to Israel's Ynet News yesterday, the Israeli education minister said that on 20 January, when US President-elect Donald Trump enters the White House, "Palestine will be taken off the agenda," advocating instead that Israeli "law be imposed on areas in Judea and Samaria", in reference to the West Bank

"Israeli government policy will be to annex Ma'ale Adumim," he added.

Ma'ale Adumim, one of the largest West Bank settlements, a city with a population of some 40,000, lies about five miles east of Jerusalem.

One day after US Secretary of State John Kerry underlined his support for a two-state solution, Bennett said that Kerry got things 100 per cent right when he said many Israeli leaders are dead-set against the two-state solution but insisted that's what makes Kerry so wrong to push for a Palestinian state.

"In Judea and Samaria, what you call the occupied territories, we have to apply Israeli sovereignty on the Jewish areas, and provide autonomy for the Palestinians in the Palestinian areas. That's the only realistic way forward," he told the BBC.

 According to Ynet News, Bennett added that he would advance an agenda to ensure that Israeli law also apply to the Jordan Valley, Ariel and Ofra where there are half a million Jews and 70,000 Arabs.

The pro-settler leader has sought to refute the notion that a two-state solution offered the greatest prospect for peace, reiterating that "the Palestinians already have a Palestinian state in Gaza. They chose to turn it into Hamastan."

"The State of Israel is about to change. If we impose the law on Area C, on a strategic level the picture will be different," Bennett continued.

Last month, Bennett met with members of Trump team, urging that the future administration look at alternatives to the two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including his own plan to annex some parts of the West Bank while giving Palestinians increased autonomy in other areas of the territory.

In a cabinet meeting on Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on lawmakers not to publicly discuss annexation, saying that President Barack Obama may have other actions prepared to take against Israel on the Palestinian issue before he leaves office in three weeks, the Times of Israel reported.

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