Netanyahu vows to push Israeli sovereignty in West Bank after terror attack

Prime minister lays cornerstone for 650 new housing units in Beit El, says terrorists ‘come to destroy, we come to build’

Raphael Ahren is a former diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

Benjamin Netanyahu, center, laying a corrnerstone for new housing units in Beit El, August 8, 2019 (Courtesy: Sharon Revivo/Likud)
Benjamin Netanyahu, center, laying a corrnerstone for new housing units in Beit El, August 8, 2019 (Courtesy: Sharon Revivo/Likud)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed Thursday to guarantee Israeli sovereignty in “all parts” of the West Bank as he participated in a cornerstone-laying ceremony for 650 new housing units in the settlement of Beit El.

The event came hours after an Israeli student was found stabbed to death near a West Bank settlement in an apparent terror attack, sparking calls for Israel to expand settlement building in response, and a day after the United Nations and Britain panned Israel for paving the way for “effective annexation” by approving thousands of settler homes.

“We promised to build hundreds of housing units — today we are doing it, both because we promised and because our mission is to establish the nation of Israel in our country, to secure our sovereignty over our historic homeland,” he said, according to a statement sent out by his ruling Likud party.

“We know that the Land of Israel is acquired through suffering,” he said, referring to the stabbing earlier that day of yeshiva student and off-duty IDF soldier Dvir Sorek. “He was from a family that has already made a heavy sacrifice for the Land of Israel,” the prime minister said, in reference to Sorek’s grandfather, who was killed in a 2000 terror attack.

“These vicious terrorists, they come to uproot — we come to plant. They come to destroy — we come to build,” he added. “Our hands will reach out and we will deepen our roots in our homeland, in all parts of it.”

In 2012, Netanyahu promised to build 300 new homes in Beit El, outside Ramallah. The project was approved in June 2017.

Dvir Sorek, 19, a yeshiva student and off-duty IDF soldier who was found stabbed to death outside a West Bank settlement on August 8, 2019 (Courtesy)

In the predawn hours of Thursday morning, Sorek, a resident of the nearby Ofra settlement who was studying at a religious seminary in the Migdal Oz settlement, south of Bethlehem, was found dead along a road leading to Migdal Oz.

Though formally a soldier, he was unarmed and not in uniform at the time of the attack, nor had he undergone military training.

Among condolences, right-leaning politicians called for Israel to apply sovereignty to the West Bank in response to the attack.

Ahead of April elections, Netanyahu vowed to apply Israeli law to all Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

On Wednesday, the UN and UK condemned an Israeli decision to advance 2,300 homes in the West Bank, many of them deep inside the territory, as pushing “effective annexation.”

Judah Ari Gross and Jacob Magid contributed to this report.

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