By Michael Bachner, Times of Israel—
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday vowed to extend “Jewish sovereignty” to all settlements in the West Bank — a move tantamount to annexation — seeking to shore up right-wing support some two weeks ahead of the September 17 Knesset elections.
Speaking to elementary school students in the settlement of Elkana on the first day of the school year, Netanyahu was echoing a pledge he made days before the previous national vote in April.
The premier said that no more settlements will be evacuated, as happened in 2005 when the entire Israeli civilian presence in the Gaza Strip — known collectively as Gush Katif — was removed.
“There will be no more Gush Katif, there will be no more displacements, and with the help of God we will apply Jewish sovereignty to all communities, as part of the Land of Israel, and as part of the State of Israel,” Netanyahu said. A Likud spokesperson later clarified that the prime minister was referring to Jewish communities in the West Bank.
He also wished the kids a successful school year.
It was the first time Netanyahu used the phrase “Jewish sovereignty” in that context, having thus far used the term “Israeli sovereignty.”
Netanyahu’s remark was criticized by center-left lawmakers, with the top Arab politician accusing him of pushing for a “war crime.”
“Netanyahu is a serial criminal: he steals from the public to give to his tycoon friends, and he pushes the State of Israel to commit a war crime of annexation that will cause the death of countless Palestinians and Israelis,” Ayman Odeh, the top Arab Knesset member and leader of the Joint List party, said in a statement, referencing three corruption cases in which charges have been announced against the prime minister, pending a hearing. Continue Reading….