Senior Israeli minister vows annexation of 'entire West Bank'

Senior Israeli minister vows annexation of 'entire West Bank'
2 min read
01 February, 2017
Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett vowed the annexation of the entire West Bank following the eviction of settlers from the illegal Amona outpost on Wednesday.
Naftali Bennett promised to build a new settlements on Palestinian land [AFP]
Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett vowed the annexation of the entire West Bank after the "painful loss" of the Amona outpost, which was evacuated on Wednesday following a court order that ruled it as illegal.

Bennet – who is also the leader of the pro-settlement Jewish Home Party – called the evicted settlers "heroes" and promised to "build a new settlements" during a Knesset speech on Wednesday.

Bennett said he is confident a bill that would legalise scores of other Israeli settlement outposts will pass next week.

"From the ruins of Amona we will build a new settlement," Bennett said.

"From its wreckage we will erect kindergartens all over Judea and Samaria. From the legal defeat, we will establish a new legal regime that will regulate all of the settlements, and from this loss we will start applying the sovereignty of the State of Israel all over Judea and Samaria."

Israeli forces began evicting dozens of Jewish settlers from the illegal wildcat outpost on Wednesday, just hours after Tel Avivi unveiled plans for 3,000 new homes in other West Bank settlements. 

Bezalel Smotrich, a lawmaker from the Jewish Home party, was one of several politicians who went to Amona to show support.

"There is a great pain, a huge disappointment. They are uprooting a community in Israel. It is a terrible thing," he told Channel 2 TV. 

Political leaders from the right and left, including Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog and party co-leader Tzippi Livni, expressed support and sympathy for the Amona settlers.

Wednesday's eviction marks the end of months of attempts by government hardliners to legalise the outpost, and the announcement of the new homes elsewhere in the occupied Palestinian land was widely seen as a sop to their supporters. 

The international community recognises the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as part of a future Palestinian state and all Jewish settlements built on these territories are illegal and infringement of UN resolutions and a possible peace process.

But the election of Donald Trump, who has promised to be far more supportive of Israel than his predecessor, has emboldened Israel's settlement movement.

His campaign platform made no mention of a Palestinian state, a cornerstone of two decades of international diplomacy in the region, and he has signalled that he will be far more tolerant of Israeli settlement construction.