Turkey slams Netanyahu's 'irresponsible' remarks on settlements

Minnie Murray
April 7, 2019

Channel 13 reported Saturday night that after President Donald Trump's recognition of Israeli rule on the Golan Heights, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is considering annexing parts of Judea and Samaria or applying Israeli law there.

The announcement, made during a television interview, was clearly made to attract support from Israel's far-right, including voters at the polls on April 9, as well as smaller more hard-line political parties that could help Netanyahu form a coalition government if his Likud party fails to win a majority in Israel's parliament.

"I stood with your prime minister at the White House to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights", he said.

Gantz professes a commitment to peace while giving no clear indication whether he would support the Palestinian goal of statehood in territories controlled by Israel since the 1967 Six Day War.

Roughly 2.8 million Palestinians live in the West Bank under the control of the Israeli military, and some 400,000 Israelis live in the territory in settlements which are illegal under worldwide law - as would be their annexation by Israel, since the territory was acquired by war.

In an interview with Israeli Channel 12 News three days ahead of the April 9 poll, Netanyahu was asked why he had not extended sovereignty to large West Bank settlements, as Israel did without worldwide recognition in East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, both captured in the 1967 Middle East war.

The chief negotiator for the Palestine Liberation Organization, Saeb Erekat, responded to Netanyahu's statements by attacking both him and the Trump administration.

"Israel will continue to brazenly violate worldwide law for as long as the global community will continue to reward Israel with impunity, particularly with the Trump administration's support", he said on Twitter.

"'How do you like the idea of me recognizing exactly what we're discussing?'" said Trump, recounting the conversation.

The latest polls place Netanyahu and ex-military chief Gantz neck and neck, but give the former the advantage.

President Donald Trump seemed to refer to a crowd of Jewish Republicans as Israelis multiple times within a speech Saturday.

Shalom Lipner, a former aide to Netanyahu and several other prime ministers and a current analyst at the Atlantic Council, said Netanyahu might well believe the Trump administration could allow him to proceed with annexation.

Trump's speech comes weeks after he suggested Democrats "hate" Jews. "Oh, oh, oh I forgot, she doesn't like Israel, I forgot, I'm so sorry". Trump has cited his moving of the USA embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and his decision to pull the US out of the Iran nuclear deal as reasons for Jewish voters to leave the Democratic party and support him and the GOP instead.

Benjamin Netanyahu is locked in a political fight for life.

"What is important is who leads, the diplomatic navigator", Netanyahu said in an interview with Israel Hayom newspaper on Friday.

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham says he wants the United States to enter into a mutual defense agreement with Israel to tell the world that "an attack against Israel would be considered an attack against the United States".

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