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Israeli deputy minister: annex West Bank but don’t give Palestinians right to vote

Israel's Deputy Defence Minister Eliyahu Ben-Dahan
Israel's Deputy Defence Minister Eliyahu Ben-Dahan

Israel’s deputy defense minister, MK Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan, has claimed that Israel could annex the entirety of the occupied West Bank, without giving its Palestinian residents the right to vote.

Ben-Dahan made the remarks in an interview with the pro-settler news outlet Arutz Sheva, and in particular, addressed the issue of demographics between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea.

“The clear and absolute thing is that we are here in the Land of Israel and we are not afraid of any attempts to frighten us”, he said. “They want to scare us, that maybe soon we will not be a majority and therefore we have to abandon Judea and Samaria [the West Bank]. This is a grave mistake”.

Ben-Dahan added that the “main issue” is that “we are in Judea and Samaria because this is our land, and we are here so that we will never leave it”.

“Sovereignty [formal annexation] must be applied in Judea and Samaria as soon as possible”, he continued.

Read: No Palestinian state in West Bank, says Israeli minister

Yet even in the case of formal annexation, the deputy minister continued, there would be no need for Palestinians to have the right to vote in Israeli elections.

“Even if we apply Israeli law in Judea and Samaria, full civil rights are not just given, and certainly not on the first day. We will have to wait several years as is customary in every country”, he said.

Separately, a senior settler leader made similar remarks on Israeli television.

Yigal Dilmoni, deputy CEO of the settlement movement’s Yesha Council governing body, told Channel 10 that Israel could deny Palestinians the right to vote, even if the latter were a majority.

“I truly believe that our right to the Land of Israel holds true whether or not [there is a majority]”, Dilmoni said. “It is just as when Ben-Gurion established the state and there were 600,000 [Jewish] people facing one and a half to two million Arabs”.

He continued: “Our right to the land of Israel was strong and present then. And it exists now as well…Therefore, the majority is not meant to be the deciding factor in our decision making”.

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