Israel Must Annex West Bank As Punishment, Say Israeli Leaders

In a letter to Netanyahu, Knesset leaders urge for sanctions against the Palestinians, expansion of settlements, and annexation

by John Glaser, September 27, 2011

In a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday, several right-wing factions in the Israeli Knesset argued that Israel should annex West Bank settlements as punishment for the recent Palestinian bid for United Nations membership.

The letter was signed by Likud chairman Ze’ev Elkin, Shas chairman Avraham Michaeli, Habayit Hayehudi chairman Uri Orbach, and the leader of the National Union faction Yaakov Katz.

The right-wing leaders urged Netanyahu to impose sanctions on the Palestinian Authority, cut aid money, gradually annex the entirety all West Bank settlements, accelerate settlement construction, cancel PA officials’ VIP ID cards, and prohibit any Palestinian construction on Israeli Defense Force controlled land.

This kind of pressure has apparently manifested into policy already, as Tuesday also saw the announcement of a major new settlement expansion in Gilo, one of the “ring neighborhoods” created in territory conquered by the Israeli military in 1967, which will include 1,100 new housing units. Indeed, this year has seen a dramatic increase in settlement expansion.

Such moves to grab land and marginalize the Palestinian leadership may be more widely supported in the Knesset than some expect. The deputy speaker of the Israeli Knesset Danny Danon, who recently appeared with Republican Presidential candidate Rick Perry in a speech on the conflict, has said openly he does not believe in a two state solution. And Prime Minister Netanyahu has suggested multiple times that all of Judea and Samaria – the West Bank – belong to the Jewish people.

The letter warned of the “serious damage that could befall Israel if it chooses to avoid repines,” and that if it did, Israel would “completely lose its deterrence, thus stimulating the Palestinians to continue their actions against it in the international arena.”

“In fact, the international damage that Israel could suffer in the wake of the UN vote is significantly smaller than that it would suffer if it doesn’t follow up on the principle you set a decade ago – ‘If they give, they’ll get; if they don’t give, they get nothing.'”

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