MK Ze’ev Elkin (Likud), chairman of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, on Sunday called for Israel to annex parts of Judea and Samaria.
Elkin’s call came in a speech at the Institute of National Security Studies think-tank in Tel Aviv. He was responding to INSS chairman Amos Yadlin, who presented a plan for Israel to withdraw from Judea and Samaria, similar to the “Disengagement” from Gaza.
Elkin, who spoke directly after Yadlin, said, "There is no doubt INSS researchers are consistent. Those predictions were made by them before the Disengagement, they believed in their forecasts that Gaza will not arm itself with missiles and wrote in their assessments that the rocket threat will remain moderate. Unfortunately, any connection between what they said and the reality is purely accidental. It is incumbent upon us to show a little humility when we predict the future, especially when it comes to betting on the security of Israeli citizens.”
“There is one move which is better than the status quo and that is making gradual progress in realizing our rights in Judea and Samaria,” Elkin continued.
“We delayed our demand [for annexation] for the last 20 years, thinking it will bring us closer to an agreement, but that did not happen,” he said. “The Palestinians have only hardened their positions, and today there are those among us who try to convince us that a Palestinian state is in Israel's interest. When this is the position that the heads of the INSS present together with the left, it only pushes the Palestinians further from reaching an agreement”
Elkin emphasized, "There is no escape from gradually annexing parts of Judea and Samaria so that everyone knows it will remain a part of Israel."
Elkin is not the first MK to advocate for sovereignty over Judea and Samaria. Jewish Home chairman Minister Naftali Bennett has also advocated for this, and recently presented a detailed plan.
Under the plan, Israel will gradually annex Area C of Judea and Samaria, where 400,000 Israelis reside alongside some 70,000 Arabs, while creating an enhanced autonomy in the remaining areas with full freedom of movement. The first area to be annexed would be Gush Etzion, an idea Bennett recently brought up during a speaking appearance at the Bar Ilan University.
The second part of the plan includes offering Israeli citizenship to 70,000 Arab residents living in the areas to be annexed, resulting in 1.77 million Israeli Arabs instead of 1.7 million today.
Bennett’s plan has come under fire from Finance Minister Yair Lapid, who called it “delusional”, as well as Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who said that there will be no unilateral Israeli steps in Judea and Samaria so long as she is a member of the government.