Two days before the target date that he set for the annexation of large swathes of the occupied West Bank, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that the move will push peace with the Palestinians forward, the Jerusalem Post reported on Monday.
Netanyahu made his comment in a video address to the online summit of Christians United for Israel in Washington and defended his annexation plan. "[This means that the West Bank] will remain part of Israel in any future peace deal," he said. "Annexation will not set back the cause of peace, but it will advance peace. I encourage the Palestinians not to lose another opportunity, not to waste another century, trying to destroy Israel."
The Israeli leader suggested that Palestinians sit down and negotiate in good faith. "They should be prepared to negotiate a historic compromise that can bring peace to Israelis and Palestinians alike. Israel is prepared for such negotiations; I am prepared for such negotiations."
He pointed out that he has "worked hard" over the past decade to deepen ties with Israel's Arab neighbours, many of whom do not have formal peace agreements with Israel. "As Israel moves forward, I will continue to work to strengthen those ties. I am confident that together we can build a future of reconciliation and peace."
The deal of the century, he claimed, does not uproot any single Jew or Palestinian from his home. "It makes clear that the Jewish people have a valid, legal, historical and moral claim to Judea and Samaria [the occupied West Bank] and it supports Israel's sovereignty over the Jewish communities there."
This was a reference to the Jewish settlements built on occupied land. All of Israel's settlements are illegal under international law.