In his first comments on interviews given by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu over the weekend, Economics Minister Naftali Bennett said that despite what Netanyahu said, all Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria would remain under Israeli sovereignty.
In the interviews, Netanyahu said that no Jews would have to leave their homes in the context of an agreement with the Palestinian Authority, but that not all towns would remain under Israeli sovereignty. If Israelis wished to stay in their homes in areas to be ruled by the Palestinians, they would be able to do so, Netanyahu said.
Netanyahu did not say which specific towns would end up outside of “Israel proper,” but he has said numerous that Israel intends to keep the “settlement blocs,” the large clusters of towns in Gush Etzion and other areas, along with towns close to the 1948 armistice lines. Less clear is the fate of towns in the Binyamin region along Route 60, and in the Jordan Valley, which are not part of any “blocs.”
Bennett was speaking at a memorial service for the members of the Fogel family of Itamar who were murdered in 2011. He said that “the whole Land of Israel is a single bloc. There are those who say we can build inside the settlement blocs, and others who say we may not be able to hold onto the towns outside the blocs. I have come to tell you what the Arabs already know – that the Land of Israel is one bloc.”
Bennett said that “even during a period where things are sometimes unclear – but this is very clear – I want to promise that there is no confusion here. The Land of Israel goes with the Torah of Israel under the sovereignty of the State of Israel. This is the time to act. We must continue building in all corners of the Land of Israel, with determination and without being confused. We are building and we will not stop.”
Bennett added that “each day I am hearing that the issue is not the physical building of homes in this country, but the existence of Israel altogether. I go around the world and keep hearing the word 'occupation.' We refuse to accept this, and we say that one cannot 'occupy' their own land.
“From here, in the memorial service for the five members of the Fogel family who were killed, we tell the whole world and the leaders of Israel – you will not break us.” Building, Bennett added, would continue.