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Netanyahu vows to annex Jewish settlements in occupied West Bank if reelected

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu makes a statement to assembled reporters before a bilateral meeting on November 24, 2015, at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem. (U.S. State Department/Released)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he will annex Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank if he wins another term in the April 9 national election.

Netanyahu was asked by Israeli Channel 12 News on April 6 why he had not annexed large West Bank settlements, as Israel did without international recognition in east Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, both captured in war in 1967.

“Who says we won’t do it? We are on the way, and we are discussing it,” Netanyahu said.

“You are asking whether we are moving on to the next stage — the answer is yes, we will move to the next stage. I am going to extend [Israeli] sovereignty, and I don’t distinguish between settlement blocs and the isolated settlements.”

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Palestinian leaders reacted with anger to Netanyahu’s comments.

“Israel will continue to brazenly violate international law for as long as the international community will continue to reward Israel with impunity, particularly with the Trump Administration’s support and endorsement of Israel’s violation of the national and human rights of the people of Palestine,” said Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator.

Palestinians seek to establish their state in the West Bank, east Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, all captured by Israel in 1967. Israel has annexed east Jerusalem and withdrawn from Gaza. The West Bank is under Israeli military occupation, although Palestinians have limited self-rule.

Palestinians consider the settlements to be illegal under Geneva conventions that ban settling on territory captured in war.

Israel disputes this, citing security needs and biblical, historical, and political connections to the land.

An estimated 400,000 Israelis live in the West Bank, along with 2.9 million Palestinians.