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Israel’s New Right: Annex ‘Area C’, give 80,000 Palestinians citizenship

March 1, 2019 at 3:27 pm

Israeli forces can be seen demolishing a Palestinian building in the ‘Area C’, West Bank on 14 February 2019 [HAZEM BADER/AFP/Getty Images]

A right-wing Israeli political party, opposed to Palestinian self-determination, has proposed plans to annex most of the West Bank and impose full Israeli sovereignty over the occupied territory. With less than six weeks till the Israeli elections, the move seems intended to sweep up votes from large sections of the country’s electorates who are hostile to a Palestinian state.

The plan proposed by the outfit headed by Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked knows as the New Right will seek to annex “Area C” which makes up 61 per cent of occupied West Bank. In what appears to be an attempt to curtail widespread fear amongst Israelis over “demographic threat” of having too many Palestinians, the right-wing group has estimated that only “80,000 Arabs” residing in the area will need to be awarded a citizenship.

A more accurate number of the Palestinian population in the area eyed for illegal annexation is said to be nearly four times higher; 297,000 according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the West Bank.

It’s a proposal that is likely to worry the international community and equally be a vote winner in the coming election. The proposal was set out as part of the platform released by the New Right party yesterday, whose leaders broke away from the Jewish Home party to form the new group. Established in December 2018, the party is said to include religious and secular groups.

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Both Israel’s Justice Minister Ayelat Shaked and Education Minister Naftali Bennett have made no secret of their intention to annex most of the West Bank. In October Shaked said she was in favour of total annexation of “Area C” and that in doing so Israel would need to absorb some Palestinians into its territory.

Most of Israel’s illegal settlements are constructed in “Area C”, which under the Oslo Accords was placed under Israel’s administration control. The population of illegal Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank is just short of 600,000, according to B’Tselem, and while “Israel has refrained from formally annexing the West Bank […] In practice, however, it treats the settlements established throughout Area C as extensions of its sovereign territory and has virtually eliminated the distinction for Israeli citizens.”