by Mati Tuchfeld and Reuters
"We are going to stop apologizing and say outright: This land is our land," says Knesset speaker after unanimous but nonbinding vote
Likud Central Committee members vote, SundayPhoto: Yosi Zeliger
The Likud party unanimously urged legislators in a nonbinding resolution on Sunday to effectively annex Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria.
The party hopes that enacting Israeli law (as opposed to the current military law) over settlements may streamline procedures for construction of new homes. Under the current arrangement, the land is under the jurisdiction of the military and Israel's defense minister has a final say on building there.
The vote was held days after Israel Hayom reported that construction, while approved by the government, has been stalled in Judea and Samaria for bureaucratic reasons that are partially a result of the lack of civil jurisdiction there.
"We will now promote the recognition of our sovereignty of the Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria. ... We must begin to enact this sovereignty, we have the moral right and obligation toward our settler brothers," Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said at the meeting of the party's governing body.
The head of the committee, Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz, also voiced support for the measure.
"Fifty years ago, we liberated our ancestors' land – Judea and Samaria, greater Jerusalem, the Cave of the Patriarchs, Rachel's Tomb and the Western Wall – but unfortunately, even today, the 500,000 Israelis who live there and pay taxes and serve in the military are discriminated against when it comes to construction of homes and personal security," he said.
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein also spoke at the event, urging U.S. President Donald Trump "to continue backing the historical truths and justice by supporting a measure to connect Jerusalem to Maaleh Adumim, a move that is obviously called for."
Edelstein said that "the basis for Likud's existence is the historical right to the Land of Israel. We are going to stop apologizing and we are going to say outright that this land is our land. We are not going to give away land, we are going to simply build in Judea and Samaria, in the Golan Heights and the Galilee and the Negev."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is not obligated to comply with the resolution and did not attend the meeting.
At least two previous Likud Central Committee decisions have been ignored by party leaders. In 2002, it voted against the establishment of a Palestinian state, but then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said he would act as he saw fit; and in 2009, Netanyahu voiced conditional support for the establishment of a Palestinian state in a landmark speech.
Opposition Leader Isaac Herzog (Labor) attacked the resolution, saying it is "irresponsible, impractical, and unnecessary."
He said it would "hurt Israel diplomatically, demographically and politically, and entirely dash the hopes for peace," and indicates that the Likud party is "preparing for an election."
Mati Tuchfeld and Reuters
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