Communications Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) called on Israel to annex large swaths of the West Bank in the wake of the emerging failure of the latest US-brokered peace talks with the Palestinians.
Speaking to Army Radio on Sunday morning, Erdan, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s security cabinet, criticized the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation agreement announced last Wednesday and called on the Israeli government “to start preparing for the annexation of Area C,” the part of the West Bank under full Israeli administrative control.
Wherever “there is a Jewish population [in the West Bank] that should remain in place; we can start to prepare to annex [that area] if there is no Palestinian partner and the situation seems unlikely to change,” Erdan said.
Erdan is one of the most senior Likud leaders, coming in third on the party’s Knesset slate (fifth on the joint list with Yisrael Beytenu).
He explained on Sunday that if Israel showed it was willing to annex some territory unilaterally, “then Abu Mazen [PA President Mahmoud Abbas] and the Palestinians will understand that there is a price to pay for running away from negotiations and linking up with terror organizations.”
The current Likud-led government “was not elected to think only about the interests of our enemies,” Erdan said, in a reference to the Palestinians.