Economy Minister Naftali Bennett believes that the majority of lawmakers in Israel support his plan for the annexation of the West Bank settlement blocs, he told Ynet on Thursday, insisting that the US-brokered peace talks have reached their natural conclusion.
"Why should we keep banging our heads against the wall?" Bennett asked in an exclusive interview to Ynet. "We've reached the end of the road with the negotiations. They're dead."
The Bayit Yehudi party leader slammed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his public support for Palestinian statehood, which, Bennett said, had left Israel in a difficult situation.
"(Netanyahu) made an historic and strategic mistake with his declarations on a Palestinian state, and now we find ourselves in this hole," Bennett said.
Nonetheless, Bennett said, Netanyahu had expressed confidence in the former's plan for the annexation of the settlement blocs. "If the pressure from Likud-Beiteinu and Bayit Yehudi works out, it will be possible to move ahead and tell the nation that we are taking action. Abu Mazen (Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas) will see that time is against him."
"There is an overwhelming majority of Knesset members and ministers in favor of annexing the settlement blocs," he said. "Hold a referendum and you will see the results. I don't think Netanyahu is in favor (of annexation), and I'm just presenting an alternative. Why keep banging your head against the wall?"
Bennett accused Abbas of embarking on unilateral steps, while Israel had remained stuck. "The time has come to initiate," he said. "We are constantly on the defensive, and we should outline Israeli interests and implement Israeli sovereignty over the (settlement) blocs."
The minister said his plan was designed specifically for this purpose, adding that the ultimate goal should be "sovereignty over all of Area C."
This, he said, could be achieved in graduated steps. "We need to reduce the scope of the conflict - the Palestinians should govern and rule themselves." Furthermore, he said, Israel "should not give up on the option" of a merger between the Palestinians and the Kingdom of Jordan.
This plan, Bennett said, was "a more realistic and practical one than the release of more terrorists and getting in return more missile attacks."
Bennett conceded that there had been serious differences of opinion between US Secretary of State John Kerry and himself, and rejected Kerry's accusations that Israel had caused the current crisis in the negotiations.
"I have no doubt about his intentions," Bennet said of Kerry. "The United States is serious but is going in the wrong direction. The current process has failed."