Settlement ‘islands’: Bennett posts map of Trump’s alleged plan for West Bank
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Likud: Map is 'fake news'

Settlement ‘islands’: Bennett posts map of Trump’s alleged plan for West Bank

Ostensible proposal would see Israel controlling Jerusalem, isolated enclaves and the Jordan Valley; deliver majority of territory to Palestinians

Yamina's Naftali Bennett speaking at the Srugim conference in Jerusalem on September 2, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Yamina's Naftali Bennett speaking at the Srugim conference in Jerusalem on September 2, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Yamina candidate Naftali Bennett unveiled Sunday what he claimed was the long-delayed Trump peace plan’s scheme for dividing the West Bank between Israel and the Palestinians. His party later acknowledged it had “compiled” the map itself based on various reports.

The alleged plan, shared by Bennett on Facebook together with a map, shows what he calls “islands” of Israeli control surrounded by a majority of the West Bank set aside for a Palestinian state.

The map shows Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley as Israeli.

The politician, whose party is battling the ruling Likud for right-wing voters ahead of the elections on Tuesday, slammed the alleged plan as “hell” for Israelis living in the West Bank, and claimed it would be the de facto end of the settlement enterprise.

“Folks, it’s time to reveal: This is the ‘Islands Plan’ of the deal of the century, which will be imposed on us right after the elections,” Bennett wrote.

“In black — Palestine. In white, isolated Israeli ‘islands’ in an ocean of Palestine, surrounded 360 degrees by Hamas, Tanzim, PLO,” he wrote.

A map of the West Bank that purports to show the final arrangement proposed by the Trump peace plan, with Israeli-controlled areas in blue and white, and a Palestinian state in black. (Facebook screen capture)

He called the map “hell for every resident of Ariel, Ofra and Kiryat Arba. An end to the settlement [enterprise].”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “spoke of sovereignty in the ‘settlements,’ but intentionally avoided saying, ‘sovereignty over Area C,'” the roughly 60 percent of the West Bank under full Israeli control,” Bennett said.

“He promised no more evacuation of any settlement,” Bennett went on, charging, “All this is technically true, but in practice the plan consigns the Land of Israel to oblivion. Because no Israeli will agree to live in an enclave surrounded by an enemy. This is just like Netzarim in Gush Katif [in Gaza] — a narrow road leading to a settlement surrounded by a wall. That’s the plan.”

He accused the prime minister of trying to hide the Trump plan from the public ahead of the elections.

“Netanyahu only presented the cherry on top of the deal of the century — sovereignty in the Jordan Valley. Did you ask yourselves, what did he pay for it? Why would Trump wait with publicizing the plan? Did you ask yourselves why he’s trying to wipe out Yamina, as he did four months ago [with the New Right]? The answer is the ‘islands plan.’ It’s coming. Wake up!

“Only a strong and large Yamina will stop the ‘islands in Palestine’ plan,” he vowed.

It was not clear how Bennett would have obtained information on the plan, which has been a closely guarded secret of the Trump administration, known only to a few advisers working on it, including the president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, peace envoy Jason Greenblatt, and ambassador to Israel David Friedman.

The White House’s peace team did not respond to a Times of Israel query by the time this article was posted.

Likud’s spokesman Yonatan Urich denied Bennett’s claims, calling them “fake news.”

“The map Bennett posted isn’t correct. Fake news. Not the view of the Trump administration. It’s not clear why Bennett is so eager to undermine our sensitive relationship with the Trump administration for the sake of a tweet,” Urich wrote in a Twitter post.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks before a map of the Jordan Valley, vowing to extend Israeli sovereignty there if re-elected, during a speech in Ramat Gan on September 10, 2019. (Menahem Kahana/AFP)

Several hours after Bennett’s post was published, a spokesperson for Yamina admitted to The Times of Israel that the map was “compiled by the Yamina party to highlight the serious threat facing Israel with such a deal.

“The map is based on compiled statements by the prime minister, the US administration, and former minister Bennett’s knowledge of the negotiations,” the spokesperson said.

Netanyahu himself has said the plan would be made public shortly after the September 17 elections.

He promised last Tuesday to carry out what appeared in Bennett’s map to be part of the plan — applying Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley — if he wins the election. The promise drew sharp rebuke from right-wing parties, which depicted it as a cynical bid to siphon away their votes, and questioned if Netanyahu really intended to carry out the annexation.

Yamina chair Ayelet Shaked on Wednesday welcomed Netanyahu’s pledge, but warned it was “just a declaration. There is no action here. [Former prime minister Menachem] Begin, when he wanted to apply sovereignty, advanced legislation in a single day in three votes to extend sovereignty to the Golan Heights,” she said.

“Applying sovereignty [to the Jordan Valley] can be done in a cabinet decision. There is no need for legislation. And should there be a diplomatic need, it can also be done by a transitional government — there is no legal impediment,” she continued, indicating that Netanyahu didn’t have any need to wait until after the elections.

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman (second left) and US President Donald Trump’s special envoys Jason Greenblatt (left) and Jared Kushner (center) meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the PMO in Jerusalem, June 21, 2017. (Matty Stern/US Embassy Tel Aviv)

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said last week that the US would present its peace plan within weeks. The economic part of the plan was reviewed during a June economic conference in Bahrain that was not attended by Israeli or Palestinian officials.

Kushner and Greenblatt, a former lawyer with the Trump Organization, have been working for the last two and a half years on the administration’s peace plan.

The White House announced last week that Greenblatt would be stepping down to return to New Jersey to be with his wife and six children.

Greenblatt will be replaced by Avi Berkowitz, a senior aide to Kushner who has been present in many of the meetings and discussions related to the peace proposal.

In New York, Greenblatt revealed last week that the Trump administration discussed presenting the peace plan even before the previous elections in Israel on April 9, but decided to wait as Washington officials felt it would not “be appreciated” in Israel if the administration was perceived as favoring Netanyahu, according to Jewish Insider.

Those elections failed to produce a coalition and Netanyahu dissolved parliament, calling a fresh vote for September and leading Washington to delay the plan’s release.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) speaks with Education Minister Naftali Bennett on November 13, 2017, in the Knesset. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Greenblatt said Washington has not yet decided whether to publicize the plan in the period between the election and the formation of the next Israeli government, which could take several weeks.

“I think there’s a good possibility that we will put it out after the election,” Greenblatt said. “But I think we have to wait and see what happens with the election and what happens in the weeks following the election — in terms of what the coalition-building looks like. So no decision has been made yet.”

Greenblatt later seemed to change his mind about leaving, saying last week he may stay on to see the administration’s peace proposal through.

“Although I have announced my departure, I am trying to stay until the plan is launched,” Greenblatt said. “If the plan is launched soon, I will stay. And if the plan is launched and we get traction, I hope to stay longer — and I have my family’s support for it.”

The Palestinians, who broke ties with the Trump administration after its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 2017 and move of the US embassy there last year, have rejected the plan out of hand as lopsided in Israel’s favor.

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