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3 Jan, 2017 18:03

Israeli minister outlines plan to annex West Bank settlement after Trump takes office

Israeli minister outlines plan to annex West Bank settlement after Trump takes office

Plans to annex a large settlement on the West Bank are to be proposed after President-elect Donald Trump takes office, an Israeli minister said. The move would be the first time Israel has annexed part of the Palestinian territory.

“It does not violate international law because that would suggest that we occupy a state. We don’t. There was never a Palestinian state,” Minister of Education and leader of the Jewish Home Party Naftali Bennett told The Washington Post. Bennett said he would put a vote to parliament after Trump’s inauguration to annex the settlement Ma’ale Adumim.

READ MORE: ‘If you’re so sure’: Israeli opposition suggests referendum after calls to annex West Bank

The annexation is the first part of Bennett’s plans to bring full Israeli law to an area designated Area C under the Oslo Accords with a population of 500,000 Israelis and 70,000 to 100,000 Palestinians. “They would represent a 1 percent addition to Israel’s population, which is negligible,” Bennett said.

With eight seats in the government coalition, the Jewish Home Party vote could cause a rupture in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, which recently ruled in favor of the party’s demand to continue settlements on land captured since the 1967 War. Some 30 lawmakers from Netanyahu’s Likud party are already in support of the bill.

Yoav Kish, a member of Likud party, said the PM asked members to leave the bill until Trump’s inauguration. “From my side, I’m going to push it forward once we pass President [Barack] Obama,” Kish told the Wall Street Journal.

Opposing the bill, Minister for Regional Cooperation, and ally of the PM, Tzachi Hanegbi, said it would aggravate the international community, making relationships worse.

The plans were made previously but put on hold until Trump’s inauguration. “Trump’s record shows that he is a bold and creative person, and he has made bold and creative moves to succeed," Bennett said. "I think it’s time for creativity in the Middle East. I hope he embraces this plan."

Bennett describes the proposals as “the imperfect plan” as “it’s not exactly what they want and not exactly what we want.”

Under the plan Bennett said a land port would be provided to Palestinian authorities allowing them to import goods without going through Israel, as well as free tourist zones where “Christian tourists could go to Haifa, Nazareth, Nablus, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Hebron and Tel Aviv without any security checks.”

“It does not solve all the problems but allows us to drastically raise the quality of life for everyone in the region,” he said.

The relationship between Israel and the Obama administration has been under considerable stress with the US refusing to veto a UN resolution that declares settlements as having “no legal validity.”

READ MORE: Netanyahu halts Israeli funding of UN bodies in revenge for ‘crazy’ resolution

Trump has came out in support of Israel, telling them to “stay strong” while also heavily criticizing the UN’s decision.