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14 Feb, 2017 01:34

Israel should annex West Bank & give Palestinians full citizenship – President Rivlin

Israel should annex all the occupied land it claims sovereignty over and grant full citizenship to those falling under its extended jurisdiction, President Reuven Rivlin said, apparently implying full annexation of the West Bank.

Speaking in the wider context of the controversial bill that has legalized the Israeli settlements in the occupied territories last week, Rivlin criticized the settlement policies which his country has pursued following the 1967 War.

Instead, the Israeli president reasoned that Israel should extend its full sovereignty over the land of "Zion" and claim lands Tel Aviv occupied in the Six Day War which includes the settlements within the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and within Syrian territory in the Golan Heights.

“I, Rubi Rivlin, believe that Zion is entirely ours. I believe the sovereignty of the State of Israel must be in all the blocs,” the president said, emphasizing that he was referring to the entire West Bank, the Times of Israel quoted him as saying.

Earlier this month Israeli lawmakers passed the so-called Regulation Bill which covers Israeli settlements and outposts built on private Palestinian land in Area C of the West Bank. Outposts, which are settler homes not approved by the government, are deemed illegal under Israeli law.

Pursuant to the new law, the settlers will be allowed to remain on private Palestinian land if they had no previous knowledge that it had been owned by Palestinians or were instructed by the government to build homes there. The law also envisages compensation for Palestinian owners, who will be paid a market price for their land but will not be able to sell it.

Commenting on the passing of the law Rivlin emphasized that “throughout the years, the State of Israel did not know how to exercise sense and responsibility and to implement sovereignty.”

“In east Jerusalem, Israel has exercised sovereignty and later, the Begin government passed the Jerusalem Law and then the Golan Heights Law. These laws established sovereignty, and thus set different rules,” the president said according to Ynet news.

“What is clear is that in order to prove that there is no contradiction between democracy and a Jewish state, it is important not to pass laws in places where we haven't decided to exercise sovereignty. We must first decide what our position is regarding sovereignty,” Rivlin said addressing the B’Sheva Jerusalem Conference.

The Israeli president reasoned that once the territories are annexed, citizens living there will be granted full Israeli citizenship and be judged under Israeli law.

“Applying sovereignty to an area gives citizenship to all those living there....There is no [separate] law for Israelis and for non-Israelis,” the president said. “It must be clear: If we extend sovereignty, the law must apply equally to all.”

Meanwhile, the Jerusalem Post has reported that Yehuda Glick, an American-born Israeli rabbi, and current Likud MP, plans to submit a private member’s bill to the Knesset urging the annexation of settlements.

If approved the annexation would cover at least one-third of the 386,000 settlers in Judea and Samaria, based on 2015 data from the Central Bureau of Statistics, the publication said. The legislation, supported by Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely and Transportation Minister Israel Katz, would cover Ma’aleh Adumim Givat Ze’ev, Geva Binyamin (Adam), Psagot, Ma’aleh Michmash and the Gush Etzion areas.

Israel has increased its settlement activity after US President Donald Trump took office on January 20. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the approval of more than 6,000 housing units in the first two weeks of Trump's presidency, all of which the United Nations considers illegal.

Netanyahu is scheduled to meet Trump in Washington on Wednesday where the issue of Israeli settlements is expected to feature prominently. On his way to the US, Netanyahu told reporters in Tel Aviv that he and the new American president see “eye to eye” on the future of the region.