A week before the elections, an Israeli-American mapping team toured the overlook near the West Bank city of Ariel on Monday, before Israel is set to apply its sovereignty on the territory as part of U.S. President Donald Trump's peace plan for the Middle East.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke at the event and gave his blessing to the move.
“The joint mapping process of the Israeli team and the American team is underway here in Ariel. This is a major mission. The area has an 800-kilometer (500-mile) perimeter. There is serious work, but we will work as quickly as possible to get it done," said Netanyahu. “The mapping is underway in order to allow for the application of Israeli law on these areas and later American recognition as well."
The process will be completed as quickly as possible. We will do this as rapidly as possible; there is no artificial impediment. For the mapping process, one must consider every valley, every section, every nook, and every line; this is serious. We are determining here lines that have historic implications. Therefore, the work will be done as quickly as possible, and we will not stop for anything.”
Netanyahu then spoke about the recent round of violence with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip.
“Last night [Sunday], we attacked in both Gaza and Syria. I do not intend to let up. On the way here, I spoke with the security elements. As you can imagine, we will be in action today as well. Beyond the severe blows that we are inflicting on our enemies, Hamas and Islamic Jihad need to understand – it will not continue this way. If they do not stop firing completely, and I do not mean for a day or two, but in general, if there will not be a complete halt, we will be obliged to activate the plan for an extensive campaign that we have prepared," said Netanyahu.
“These are not mere words. They contain new and surprising things that were not in Operation Cast Lead, Operation Pillar of Defense or Operation Defensive Shield, and whoever is in the Security Cabinet knows exactly what we are talking about. The campaign could become a war; it is the last option. I am not rushing to go there. I know the cost our soldiers pay and the families of the fallen. This is the last option, but if there is no choice, we will go there. Woe to Hamas and Islamic Jihad if they reach that day. The choice is theirs. We will do what is necessary in order to restore complete security to the residents of the south.”
Tourism Minister Yariv Levin also lauded the move, citing its historic significance.
"The goal is to draw an accurate and complete map of the area so that Israeli sovereignty could be applied to it," said Levin. "It is definitely a historic and significant moment."
U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and his senior advisor Aryeh Lightstone, PMO Acting Director General Ronen Peretz and U.S. National Security Council Director for Israeli-Palestinian affairs Scott Leith were also present at the meeting.