A right-wing lawmaker allied with the Blue and White party said Thursday he would back annexing parts of the West Bank even if Defense Minister Benny Gantz opposes doing so.
In an interview with Army Radio, Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel was asked if he would vote against annexation if Gantz’s Blue and White does.
“I’ll vote in favor of applying the law” to areas of the West Bank, Hendel said.
Hendel ran in the three elections over the past year as part of Blue and White, which split into separate factions in March over Gantz’s decision to join a government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Hendel and MK Zvi Hauser, both former Netanyahu aides, formed the Derech Erech party, which joined the coalition as part of Gantz’s bloc.
Hendel said that while he respects Gantz’s position, “it could be be on this we don’t agree with each other.” He stressed, however, he otherwise supports the Blue and White chief.
The communications minister also said he supports extending citizenship to Palestinians living in areas that Israel may annex. Netanyahu said last month that Palestinians living under Israeli rule in an annexed Jordan Valley wouldn’t receive Israeli citizenship.
“In principle I’m in favor of law and order for everyone, Jews and Arabs, and when I apply the law to an area like the Jordan Valley… I also apply the law to the Palestinians,” Hendel said.
Under the coalition deal between Blue and White and Netanyahu’s Likud party, the premier can begin annexing West Bank lands allocated to Israel under US President Donald Trump’s peace plan on July 1.
While Netanyahu has repeatedly pledged to begin advancing annexation then, Gantz reportedly opposes doing so unilaterally and the two are currently divided on the move, which has been widely condemned internationally.