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Netanyahu hints at possible annexation of West Bank

April 7, 2019 12:55 P.M. (Updated: April 9, 2019 10:42 A.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted, on Friday, that he may annex Area C of the occupied West Bank, in which more than 60% of Palestinian land is under full Israeli control and where Israel's illegal settlement enterprise is expanding, ahead of the Israeli legislative election on April 9th.

Times of Israel news outlet reported that during an interview with Netanyahu, he was asked if he will stop short of annexing Area C with its Palestinian dwellers, to which he responded by saying, “I promise that you will be surprised. I cannot talk about the plan, but Trump is a big friend and I doubt there will ever be any bigger friend than him.”

United States President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in December 2017, moved the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May 2018, and most recently recognized the occupied Syrian Golan Heights as Israeli territory, leading to speculation that it could pave the way for the recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Palestinian territories.

Netanyahu pointed out that any peace plan with the Palestinians has to incorporate three of his conditions, which include no removal of any Israeli settler or illegal settlement from the West Bank, full Israeli control over the West Bank, and that Jerusalem would not be divided.

Netanayhu mentioned that he told Trump’s Mid-east envoys that unless their so-called ‘‘Deal of the Century’’ peace plan accepts his three conditions, it will have no chance of success.

Sources also reported that when asked about the future of the besieged Gaza Strip, Netanyahu said that he supports the separation of the West Bank from Gaza, which he noted “in the long run, this is something not bad for Israel.”

Netanyahu went on to stress that he opposes the return of the Palestinian Authority (PA) to take control of Gaza after the Hamas movement became the de-facto ruler in 2007.

The Oslo agreements in 1993 between the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Israeli authorities divided the West Bank into three sections: Area A, B, and C. Area A, comprising the populated Palestinian cities and making up 18% of the West Bank, would be controlled by the newly formed PA, while Area B remained under Israeli army control with the PA controlling civil affairs.

Area C, the majority of the West Bank, however, was placed under full Israeli military control and contains the majority of natural resources and open spaces in the Palestinian territory. The Israeli-controlled land was expected to be gradually transferred to the PA over a five-year period, according to the Oslo agreements.

Yet, more than two decades later, the land has remained under Israeli control. Area C, along with East Jerusalem -- the capital of any future Palestinian state as part of a two-state solution -- has been the site of rapid Israeli settlement expansions, while Israel’s separation wall has further divided Palestinian communities and has restricted Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza from even visiting what was intended to be their capital.

According to Palestinians and rights groups, Israel's main goal, both in its policies in Area C, is to depopulate the land of its Palestinian residents and to replace them with Jewish Israeli communities, in order to manipulate population demographics in all of historic Palestine.

Meanwhile,more than 600,000 Israelis reside in Israeli settlements across the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in contravention of international law.
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