Blue and White’s number-two and prospective prime minister Yair Lapid said Sunday that he did not believe Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu would annex any parts of Yehudah and Shomron if he won re-election. “If he hasn’t done it in the past 13 years he is not going to do it,” Lapid told Maariv. “I do not believe him. If he wants to get something done, it gets done. Netanyahu will not do it, and neither will Naftali Bennett, because the last thing Netanyahu wants is to fight with America. He says he will do a lot of things, in transportation, education and much more – but he will not do them.”
Lapid was responding to comments Netanyahu made in an interview on Motzoei Shabbos. When asked by Channel 12 interviewers why, despite much talk, he had not made a move to impose Israeli sovereignty on areas like Gush Etzion and Maaleh Adumim that even the opposition was likely to support, Netanyahu said, “Who says we will not do it? We are on the way there, we are discussing it. I think everyone realizes that the next term will be extremely important, with the biggest question if we will be able to ensure our security and our presence in Yehudah and Shomron. Benny Gantz and Lapid said they would throw 80,000 to 90,000 Jews out of their homes, and turn Yehudah and Shomron into Gaza.
“That is how they propose to make ‘peace,’” Netanyahu said. “We have the opposite approach. I am the one who got President Trump to recognize our sovereignty over the Golan and to move the U.S. Embassy to Yerushalayim. I will not divide Yerushalayim like they will, I will not uproot any Jews from their homes. I will ensure that we continue to rule all areas west of the Jordan River. Will we move on to the next stage? The answer is yes, we will gradually impose Israeli sovereignty on all parts of Yehudah and Shomron. I am not differentiating between the settlement blocs and isolated settlements; all those places are Israeli as far as I am concerned. We have a responsibility to them and I will not transfer them to the Palestinians. If we have learned anything it is that radical Islam and Iran enter the areas that we abandon. I am not prepared to give over the heartland of Israel.”
This is the first time Netanyahu has discussed the idea of Israeli sovereignty in Yehudah and Shomron in public, but Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz was not surprised. Speaking to Army Radio, Katz said that some details of the plan had already been worked out. “We will not differentiate between the settlement blocs and place like Eli and Shilo. We are against the uprooting of 100,000 Jews from their homes. We will not give Palestinians in these areas citizenship.
“After the American recognition of Israeli sovereignty in the Golan, this would certainly need to be the next step,” said Katz. “We would annex the towns where Jews live; no Palestinians live in these places. We are not talking about annexing all the land, but only places where Jews live, without including Palestinians. I had already proposed the law to expand the Yerushalayim metropolitan area” to include Maaleh Adumim, Givat Ze’ev and Gush Etzion, Katz said. “We can renew legislation of that law when the new government takes office. I intend to act in order to get American agreement for that legislation,” he added.