Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party on Sunday unanimously urged legislators in a non-binding resolution to effectively annex Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, land that Palestinians want for a future state.
By enacting civilian law over settlements, the move could streamline procedures for their construction and expansion.
That land is under military jurisdiction and the Israeli minister of defense has a final say on building there. The settlers are subject to Israeli civilian law.
“We will now promote the recognition of our sovereignty of the Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank]... We must begin to enact this sovereignty, we have the moral right and obligation toward our settler brothers,” Israeli Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan told a meeting of Likud’s Central Committee.
Netanyahu is not bound to follow the resolution. He did not attend the meeting, which attracted several hundred delegates, including ministers, legislators and party officials.
The committee is the party’s governing body.
At least two previous committee decisions have been ignored by party leaders: In 2002, it voted against the creation of a Palestinian state, but then-Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon said he would act as he saw fit and Netanyahu in 2009 voiced conditional support for the establishment of a Palestinian state in a landmark speech.
Political commentators said the decision might bolster right-wing support for Netanyahu, who could seek a public mandate in an early election as he awaits possible criminal indictments against him on corruption suspicions.
He denies wrongdoing.
Although parliamentary elections are not due until November next year, the police investigations in two cases of alleged corruption against Netanyahu and tensions among partners in his governing coalition could hasten a poll.
Most countries view settlements that Israel has built on land captured in the 1967 Middle East war as illegal.
Israel disputes that and cites biblical, historical and political links to the West Bank, as well as security interests.
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