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Knesset calls for permanent annexation of West Bank

Palestinian demonstrators hold Palestinian flags and placards during a protest against illegal settlements in the West Bank on 26 March 2017 [Wisam Hashlamoun/Apaimages]
Palestinian demonstrators hold Palestinian flags and placards during a protest against illegal settlements in the West Bank on 26 March 2017 [Wisam Hashlamoun/Apaimages]

A number of far-right Israeli parliamentarians called for the permanent annexation of the occupied Palestinian territory during a Knesset plenary session to mark the 50-year anniversary of the Six-Day War on Tuesday.

“Fifty years on, and there are those who say the [1967] victory only complicated things for us; that the ‘occupation’ corrupts our society,” Knesset speaker Yuli-Yoel Edelstein said, before calling Israelis residing in illegal settlements across the occupied Palestinian territory “pioneers of our time”.

“We will continue to support the settlers, even when it is ‘complicated’,” Edelstein added.

Meanwhile, MK Moti Yogev from the extreme right-wing Jewish Home party, called for the establishment of a Jewish state in all of historic Palestine.

The people of Israel know that the land of Israel belongs to them, and the Israeli settlement in the land will continue forever. Its defensible eastern border will always be the Jordan River, and Jerusalem will not be divided

Yogev said.

“It is time to seek international recognition. It is time to stop being afraid. It is time to apply the law to Judea and Samaria as an inseparable part of the state of Israel,” MK Yoav Ben Tzur of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party said, using the Israeli term for the occupied West Bank.

Read: 62% of Israelis do not consider the West Bank ‘occupied’

Yisrael Beitenu lawmaker Oded Forer meanwhile called on foreign states to move their embassies to Jerusalem, a move that would de facto acknowledge Israel’s claim to Jerusalem as its capital.

The far-right MKs’ statements came on the same day as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised to do “everything to protect the settlement enterprise” in “all parts of Judea and Samaria”, prompting the Palestinian Authority (PA) to say that Israel was “destroy[ing] any chance of resuming the peace process.”

However, other parliamentarians expressed concerns over the impact of half a century of occupation on Israel, and its potential to jeopardize a future two-state solution.

“Since the Six-Day War, we have yet to decide what to do with the victory,” Merav Michaeli, from the opposition Zionist Camp party, said.

The [Israeli army] has been held in the West Bank since the Six-Day War, initially to preserve the achievements of the war, but today it is kept there to protect Jewish settlements in a place that does not really belong to us. The conflict has become the thing that defines us. We do not recognise ourselves without it.

“It is in our interest – from a position of strength – to lend them [Palestinians] a hand and help them build themselves up, because this will help us build ourselves up. Otherwise, the victory in the Six-Day War will dismantle us from within,” Michaeli warned.

MK Dov Khenin of the Arab Joint List, said: “Today I saw many pictures in the corridors [of the Knesset], but the big picture was missing. Where are all the millions of people who live under occupation? Where are the pictures of the checkpoints and the [Palestinian] farmers who lost their fields?”

The only option is peace. The path to peace is simple, on a basic level. What we ask for ourselves – independence and justice – is what the other nation deserves as well

Khenin added.

“There are two options – we can either learn to get along in our surroundings or not. If we do not, there will be more wars and more people will be killed, until there will be a war which we will not win and the state of Israel will cease to exist.”

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