Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party unanimously agreed a proposal yesterday to effectively annex Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, land that Palestinians want for a future state.
The proposal, which was voted for in the Likud Party’s Central Committee’s conference in Jerusalem, called for making Israeli sovereignty and laws dominant in the occupied West Bank Palestinian territories and gives permission to build more Jewish settlements.
By enacting civilian law over settlements, the move could streamline procedures for their construction and expansion. That land is currently under military jurisdiction and Israel’s defence minister has a final say on building there.
The settlers are subject to Israeli civilian law.
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan told the delegates at the meeting:
“We will now promote the recognition of our sovereignty of the Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank). … We must begin to enact this sovereignty, we have the moral right and obligation towards our settler brothers
Ministers and lawmakers from the party supported the proposal, however, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is also from the Likud party, did not make a statement on the issue. He did not attend the meeting, which attracted several hundred delegates including ministers, legislators and party officials.
If the proposal is presented to the Israeli parliament Knesset, it needs to be discussed in three different sessions before being approved.
Most countries view settlements that Israel has built on land captured in the 1967 Middle East war as illegal. Israel disputes that and cites biblical, historical and political links to the West Bank, as well as security interests.
About 400,000 settlers and 2.8 million Palestinians live in the West Bank. The Palestinians want to establish a state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip with East Jerusalem as its capital.
In 1981, Israel enacted civilian law on the Golan Heights, territory captured from Syria in 1967, a de-facto annexation of the strategic plateau. The move has not won international recognition.
Israeli settlements have been one of the main stumbling blocks in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks that have been frozen since 2014.