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Bennett advocates the annexation of “Area C”, or 60 percent of the West Bank, and Israeli citizenship for what he says are the 50,000 Palestinians who live in that part of the territory - where the biggest of Israel’s settlements have been built.
The United Nations estimates that 150,000 Palestinians live in “Area C”.
Under his plan, Israel would give autonomy to the rest of the 2.5 million Palestinians in the West Bank. Some 500,000 Israelis live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, areas captured in a 1967 war, in settlements most of the world views as illegal.
“Before we go about annexing, we have to reverse Israel’s position and the world’s position vis-à-vis forming a Palestinian state and only then very gradually apply Israeli law on the Israeli parts of Judea and Samaria,” Bennett said, using the Biblical names for the West Bank.
Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians broke down in 2010 in a dispute over Israeli settlement construction.
In November, the United Nations General Assembly upgraded the Palestinians’ diplomatic status from “observer entity” to “observer state”. The Palestinian bid won an overwhelming world majority and was a diplomatic defeat for Israel and the United States, who opposed it.
“Sometimes common wisdom is wrong. I think this is one of those cases. We are all together on a bus, with the whole international community, riding towards a dead end,” Bennett said, “Maybe it’s time for a new approach.”
Bennett’s annexation plan is hardly new to the settler electorate. The notion has long been embraced by hard-line ideological settlers who believe all of the Biblical Land of Israel was promised to the Jews by God.
The proposal is not prominent in the party’s campaign and Bennett, a former settlers’ council leader in the West Bank, has described the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as the “most boring” issue on the agenda.