By TOI Staff

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed on Saturday to extend Israeli sovereignty to the settlements of the West Bank if he is re-elected in Tuesday’s elections.

Flatly ruling out Palestinian statehood, which he said would “endanger our existence,” Netanyahu promised to permanently maintain overall Israeli security control in the West Bank and to formalize Israeli rule over the 400,000-plus Israeli Jews in the settlements. This would apply not only to major settlement blocs, but also to isolated settlements, he indicated.

Asked in a Channel 12 interview why he hadn’t already extended Israeli law to the settlements or annexed them, he initially replied, “Who says we won’t do that? We’re on the way…. The next term will be fateful.”

Pushed further, he specified, “We’ll go to the next stage.”

“I am going to apply Israeli sovereignty, but I don’t distinguish between settlement blocs and isolated settlements. From my perspective, each of those settlement points is Israeli. We have responsibility [for them] as the government of Israel. I don’t uproot any, and I won’t transfer them to the sovereignty of the Palestinians. I take care of them all.”

Netanyahu’s promise Saturday came a day after he told Channel 13 news that he had told US President Donald Trump he would not evacuate “a single person” from any of the settlements, and amid reports that he believes Trump will back him on settlement annexation if the Palestinians reject the much-anticipated Trump Israeli-Palestinian peace plan. Continue Reading….