Photo: AP
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Photo: AP

Netanyahu vows to annex Jewish settlements in Hebron

PM tells Army Radio if he is reelected in Tuesday, his government will apply Israeli sovereignty to areas in the largest Palestinian city populated with Jewish settlers; remarks come just days after Netanyahu said he'll annex the Jordan Valley

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he intends to apply Israeli sovereignty on West Bank settlements in Hebron, the largest Palestinian city, if he is reelected in Tuesday’s election.



Netanyahu told Army Radio on Monday that he plans to annex "all the settlements" in the West Bank. Israel captured the West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan in the 1967 Six-Day War.



Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (צילום: AP)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (צילום: AP)


When asked if that included an enclave of several hundred settlers who live in volatile Hebron and Kiryat Arba - located on the outskirts of the Palestinian city - he said: "Of course. They will become a part of Israel."


"I intend to extend sovereignty on all the settlements and the (settlement) blocs," including "sites that have security importance or are important to Israel's heritage," Netanyahu said.


The remarks come after a week after Netanyahu visited Israeli settlements in Hebron and vowed the area will never be “free of Jews.”


“It won’t become judenrein,” he said, using a Nazi term used to describe areas that was "cleansed" of Jews during the Holocaust.


Last month marked the 90th anniversary of the massacre of dozens of members of the Hebron Jewish community by their Arab neighbors. Sixty-seven Jewish residents of the city were murdered in an event that marked the beginning of the end of the ancient community.


The city is also the site of a network of caves holy to both Jews and Muslims, who know it as the Cave of the Partiarchs and the Sancuary of Abraham respectively.


Border Police troops guard a Palestinian home in Hebron where settlers were squatting, July 2017. Ownership of the building was at the center of a years-long dispute (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
Border Police troops guard a Palestinian home in Hebron where settlers were squatting, July 2017. Ownership of the building was at the center of a years-long dispute (Photo: Gil Yohanan)


Netanyahu is fighting for his political survival in the September 17 vote. He has doled out hard-line promises weeks before the vote trying to shore up nationalist voters.


The prime minister runs consistently neck and neck in the polls with his main rival Blue and White leader Benny Gantz, while former coalition partners - mainly the newly founded Yemina (rightwards) party - snipe at him from the right.


Netanyahu's Likud party has campaigned on the premise that a Gantz government would be a secular left-wing government united with the Arab parties Netanyahu has consistently reviled.


He has also promised to annex the Jordan Valley, an area seen as the breadbasket of any Palestinian state, but which Israel has long maintained is key to its security after any deal with the Palestinians.


Critics contend that Netanyahu's pledges, if carried out, would enflame the Middle East and eliminate any remaining Palestinian hope of establishing a separate state. His political rivals have dismissed his talk of annexation as an election ploy noting that he has refrained from annexing any territory during his more than a decade in power.


Over 2.5 million Palestinians now live in occupied territories, in addition to nearly 700,000 Jewish settlers. Israel already has annexed East Jerusalem in a move that is not internationally recognized. The international community, along with the Palestinians, overwhelmingly considers Israeli settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem illegal.


Tuesday's vote will largely be a referendum on Netanyahu, who this year surpassed Israel's founding prime minister David Ben-Gurion as the country's longest-serving leader.


He has cast himself as the only candidate capable of facing Israel's myriad challenges. But his opponents say his legal troubles -- including a recommendation by the attorney general to indict him on bribery, fraud and breach of trust charges -- loom too large for him to carry on.


Associated Press contributed to this report


פרסום ראשון: 09.16.19, 10:49
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