Thirty-five Members of Knesset are calling on the government to make the Samaria (Shomron) city of Ariel officially, fully Israeli by declaring Israeli sovereignty. While successive Israeli governments have stated that Israel will maintain control of Ariel and other Jewish cities in Judea and Samaria under any peace deal with the Palestinian Authority, no prime minister has officially declared the city to be a sovereign part of Israel.
The MKs, led by freshman Likud MK Tzipi Hotovely, signed a petition calling on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to secure Ariel's status once and for all. Members of every major party except Labor, the 4th-largest in the Knesset, signed. The only other parties in which no MKs signed were Meretz, the Jewish-Arab communist party Hadash, and the two Arab parties, the four of which hold a total of 14 seats.
Every member of Ichud Leumi (National Union) signed, as did the majority of the MKs in the Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel Our Home) faction.
The petition to Netanyahu states:
We the undersigned Members of Knesset, members of various political factions, call on the government under your command to implement full Israeli sovereignty in the city of Ariel, as a fitting response to the calls to boycott and de-legitimize the Jewish community in Ariel.
The extremist voices heard recently, which see Ariel as a settlement in a foreign land and occupied territory, must be countered by a declaration of principle made by the government of Israel proclaiming that Ariel is an indivisible part of the sovereign state of Israel.
Such a move would reflect the widespread Israeli consensus regarding Ariel, and would halt the attempt to erode the legitimacy of Jewish settlement in the land of Israel.
MK Hotovely said, “The Knesset is asking for this, the nation wants it, and now it is time for the Prime Minister to put in force Israeli sovereignty in the Samaria city of Ariel.” Declaring sovereignty will demonstrate Israeli consensus “in the clearest possible way,” she said, and in addition, “will prevent future infighting in the Israeli public.”
The subject of Ariel's status made headlines recently as dozens of actors announced that they would boycott the city's new cultural center. The boycott was denounced by many MKs, several of whom called to cut funding for the boycotting artists, and by Prime Minister Netanyahu. It also led to a counter-boycott. In the event, the Ariel cultural center opened as planned, and the first performances staged drew a full house.
The following MKs are among those who signed the petition for sovereignty in Ariel: Tzipi Hotovely (Likud), Yariv Levine (Likud), Carmel Shama (Likud), Yitzchak Vaknin (Shas), Zevulun Orlev (Jewish Home), Moshe Matalon (Israel Our Home), Yulia Shmuelov-Berkovitz (Kadima), Michael Ben-Ari (National Union), Yaakov “Ketzaleh” Katz (National Union), Uri Orbach (Jewish Home), Alex Miller (Israel Our Home), Robert Ilatov (Israel Our Home), Avraham Michaeli (Shas), Nissim Ze'ev (Shas), Tzion Pinyan (Likud), Chaim Katz (Likud), Marina Solodkin (Kadima), David Azulai (Shas), Aryeh Eldad (National Union), Leah Ness (Likud), Amnon Cohen (Shas), Gila Gamliel (Likud), Orli Levy-Abukasis (Israel Our Home), Anastasia Michaeli (Israel Our Home), Uri Ariel (National Union), Stas Misezhnikov (Israel Our Home), Ayoub Kara (Likud), Miri Regev (Likud), Hamad Amar (Israel Our Home), Fania Kirshenbaum (Israel Our Home), Danny Danon (Likud), Ze'ev Elkin (Likud), Robert Tiviaev (Kadima), and Menachem Eliezer Moses (United Torah Judaism).