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Israel minister backs plan to 'assist' Palestinian emigration

The National Union faction, which has Members of Knesset in the Jewish Home party, yesterday approved a plan at its national conference to annex the West Bank and "assist" Palestinian emigration.

According to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the plan – developed by MK Bezalel Smotrich – presents "a kind of surrender-or-transfer ultimatum to the Palestinians".

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent a videotaped message of support to delegates.

Two alternatives will be offered to "the Arabs of the Land of Israel", the plan states:

  1. Anyone who is willing and able to relinquish the fulfillment of his national aspirations will be able to stay here and live as an individual in the Jewish state.

  2. Anyone who is unwilling or unable to relinquish his national aspirations will receive assistance from us to emigrate to one of the Arab countries.

Palestinians who "resort to violence", the plan continues, "will be determinedly handled by the security forces with greater force than at present and under more comfortable conditions for us".

Conference delegates, including Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel, unanimously approved the plan.

Addressing the conference, Smotrich declared that "after a hundred years of managing the conflict, the time has come for a decision", adding that his "vision" is not, in fact, new.

"These are the foundations on which Zionism was erected. We do not assume that there are two narratives here that are equal. There's one side that's correct, and another that is undermining the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state."

He continued: "We have to engrave in the consciousness of the Arabs and the entire world that there is no chance of establishing an Arab state in the Land of Israel."

Read: Israeli MK launches plan to pay Palestinians to emigrate, annex West Bank

Party secretary Ofir Sofer rejected accusations of racism. "We're talking about encouraging emigration," he told reporters. "We are aiming here exactly at those terror operatives, those who support terror. Are you in favour of encouraging emigration of Eritreans and not of terrorists?"

In his recorded message of support to the conference, Netanyahu said: "I was happy to hear that you are devoting the discussions at the conference to the subject of the future of the Land of Israel. Up until not so many years ago, this country was deserted and abandoned, but since we returned to Zion, after generations of exile, the Land of Israel is flourishing."

He continued: "We are building the country and settling it in the mountains, the valleys, the Galilee, the Negev and in Judea and Samaria [West Bank] too, because this is our country. We have been given the privilege of living in the land, and we have an obligation to guard it carefully."


Minister Ariel, who is also National Union chair, used the conference to reassert his opposition to Palestinian statehood. "This foolishness of the establishment of a Hamas state alongside Israel must stop because there never has been a Palestinian state and there never will be one. There has to be one state between the Jordan and the sea – the State of Israel."

Ariel expressed appreciated for Netanyahu's support for "building the land of Israel" (i.e. including in the occupied West Bank), but urged the premier to pursue a "national and strategic plan" to that end.

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