Education Minister and Habayit Hayehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett said on Tuesday morning that Israel should take advantage of the elections season in the US to impose Israeli law on Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria such as Ariel, Maale Adumim, Gush Etzion and Ofra.
“It’s time to take an active step instead of constantly being on the defensive,” Bennett said.
When told that while President Trump would probably endorse such a move, President Clinton would likely reject it, Bennet said, “We can’t expect the world to be more Zionist than we are. We must be the ones initiating the action.”
Responding to a question about the world’s reaction to such a move, Bennett noted that Labor Prime Minister Levy Eshkol did not cower before world opinion when he unified Jerusalem in 1967, nor did Likud Prime Minister Menahem Begin when he passed the law making the Golan Heights part of Israel.
“I’m not suggesting it would be easy,” Bennett said, “but we need to do that which is proper for us. We must chart our vision and we must start working to apply it.”
Bennett admitted that his party’s line is in conflict with Prime Minister Netanyahu’s call at the UN for making the two-state solution a reality. “Creating a Palestinian state along the 1967 border, with some swapping of territories, would be a horrendous mistake,” he said. “Currently we only have eight seats in the Knesset. When we have 30 seats we’ll be able to apply our entire agenda on this matter.”
When asked if he didn’t think it was time to end the cycle of violence once and for all, Bennett suggested that so far violence has been the result of Israel handing over territory, and not from annexing territories. “When we handed over the Gaza Strip we got rockets; when we handed over Judea and Samaria we got the second intifada.”
“The rules in the Middle East are sometimes counter-intuitive,” Bennett said. “To maintain peace here, we must be very strong. As soon as you’re too soft in this neighborhood, you catch a blow. When everyone around understands that we are determined not to hand over even one square inch, the appreciation for our position would only grow, and we’ll see fewer conflicts and confrontations. They’ll accept it.”
Regarding the issue of the Amona community, which the Supreme Court has ruled must be evacuated and demolished by early December, Bennett said, “We’re working on it. Yesterday we launched a team of several judicial experts to examine several proposed alternatives, not just regarding Amona but concerning a long line of settlements in Judea and Samaria.”
“The Supreme Court must obey the law and must follow government policy,” Bennett said, explaining that “in recent years, before Ayelet Shaked (Habayit Hayehudi) became Justice Minister, and before we were part of the government, unfortunately governments have gone to the Supreme Court and stated, ‘Of course, we must demolish.’ And so the high court responded, saying, ‘Do go ahead and demolish.’ They asked for extensions, but eventually the time expires. The high court very much relates to government policy. And we must turn this policy by 180 degrees, which we will do.”