Bayit Yehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett proclaimed the peace talks dead and demanded Prime Minister Netanyahu begin exercising Israeli sovereignty on major settlement blocs in the West Bank in response to recent unilateral moves by the Palestinians.
In a letter to Netanyahu, Bennett requested “to have a (government) session as soon as possible on an alternative plan (Plan B) to begin the process of applying Israeli sovereignty on areas in Judea and Samaria that are under Israeli control.”
Israel announced on Wednesday a partial freeze in high-level contacts with the Palestinians and also threatened economic steps after they signed international conventions, deepening a crisis menacing US-brokered peace talks.
Bennett has long been opposed to peace talks, and does not support the two state solution. In his most details statement since talks have begun, Bennett eulogized peace talks and suggested Israel begin annexing central settlement blocs generally expected to remain under Israeli control regardless of the outcome of talks.
Claiming talks had run their course, Bennett said the talks set “a new record of (Palestinian) extortion and obstinacy… In light of all this, it is clear the current process has run its course and that we are entering a new era,” he wrote.
Naming Gush Etzion, Ma'ale Adumim, and the settlements of Ofra and Beit El, as well as the area surrounding Ben Gurion International Airport, Bennett wrote "These areas which enjoy a broad national consensus and have security, historical, and moral significance for the State of Israel."
Bennett further claimed the region was home to only a few thousands of Palestinians and roughly 440,000 Israeli settlers.
Placing his suggestion into historical context, Bennett said "this move will be done in the same manner the (Levi) Eshkol government applied sovereignty over Jerusalem or the (Menahem) Begin government extended sovereignty to the Golan Hights.”
Chief peace negotiator and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni slammed Bennett's comments, and sarcastically suggested Israel annex the entire West Bank and become a bi-national state.
In a Facebook post, Livni sarcastically wrote: "Why not, lets go for it, if we want to go made lets do it all the way, so we can never reach an agreement and become a bi-national state and lose everything we love. Why not!"
Referencing recent events in the radical settlement Yitzhar – in which settlers enacted a price tag attack against and IDF post – Livni continued with her sarcastic tone and wrote: "Let turn the hill-top youths of Yizhar into official Israel and force ourselves into complete (international) isolation. I was almost tempted to support Bennett on the condition he follows his words with actions, not like a provocative child who hopes his parents will restrain him, but then I remembered I have two sons."
Livni further added that: "By the way, the Palestinians will be glad to hear Bennett is willing to take the blocs and give up the rest."
Israeli government officials said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had ordered cabinet members, directors-general of government ministries and other senior officials not to meet their counterparts in the Palestinian Authority
An Israeli official said Netanyahu had issued the order in response to "the Palestinians' grave violation of their commitments in the framework of the peace talks" - a reference to the signing of 15 international agreements last week, a move which Israel claims breaks pre-agreed conditions of the peace talks.