Likud sources said Sunday that speeches by Defense Minister Naftali Bennett demanding immediate annexation of areas of Yehudah and Shomron by Israel was actually damaging the cause of Israeli sovereignty over the areas. “Bennett is trying to make an election issue out of the annexation issue, after Prime Minister Netanyahu worked for three years on the plan with President Trump. Bennett does not know all the details and the diplomatic work we have been doing with the Americans,” Likud sources were quoted by Reshet Bet as saying.
With his “strident” comments, the sources said, Bennett was actually making it more difficult for Israel to move toward sovereignty. “These statements are endangering the process Netanyahu is conducting with the Americans, which [we hope] will result in their consent and recognition. While Bennett makes these speeches he is holding secret talks with Benny Gantz to form a government that will be dependent on the votes of Ahmed Tibi, meanwhile we are working out the borders of sovereignty, which will be finished soon.”
In a speech Motzoei Shabbos, Bennett urged Netanyahu to speed up the annexation of areas of Yehudah and Shomron. “There will never be a more appropriate moment to declare sovereignty,” Bennett said. “I call on the prime minister to bring the issue to a Cabinet vote immediately. Prime Minister, we will support you from the right. Without sovereignty, we will get a Palestinian terror state with its capital in Yerushalayim.”
Bennett made his comments after an election rally Netanyahu held in Maale Adumim. “We are in the midst of mapping the areas that will be part of the State of Israel. It’s a lot of territory, and the border will be 800 kilometers long. We are initiating this and President Trump will endorse it. I trust him and and I totally trust myself. I do not trust Benny Gantz. If it is up to Gantz, sovereignty will not happen. We have been waiting since 1967, and people are making a big deal of a few weeks,” Netanyahu said at the rally.
In response, Arutz Sheva quoted sources in Bennett’s Yemina Party as saying that they would “continue to run our campaign in a responsible campaign, demanding sovereignty here and now and advancing the security needs of Israel. We don’t intend to get into a debate over this. It’s not clear why Netanyahu is so anxious to shoot down one of his allies and natural partners, as we have been in the past and will be in the future.”