Settler leader launches campaign to thwart ‘poisoned’ Trump peace plan
Yesha Council circulates map it says shows Palestinian state

Settler leader launches campaign to thwart ‘poisoned’ Trump peace plan

Yossi Dagan slams proposal’s backing for Palestinian state and creation of West Bank settlement enclaves, says Netanyahu should approve annexation even without US backing

Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan speaks during a demonstration outside the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem following a series of terror attacks, December 13, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan speaks during a demonstration outside the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem following a series of terror attacks, December 13, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

A hawkish settler leader on Tuesday launched a campaign against the establishment of a Palestinian state and creation of isolated settlement “enclaves” in the West Bank as part of US President Donald Trump’s peace plan.

Despite the US proposal seemingly allowing for Israeli annexation of all Israeli settlements and the Jordan Valley, some settler officials have come out against the plan for provisioning space for a Palestinian state on some 70 percent of the West Bank.

In a statement, Yossi Dagan, head of the Samaria Regional Council, likened the plan to a “poisoned chalice,” warning against the creation of a “terror state” that would endanger Israel and vowing not to “abandon” residents of the settlements that would be surrounded by a Palestinian state.

The US plan provides a list of conditions for establishing a Palestinian state in the rest of the West Bank, which would envelope 15 settlements that would be connected to Israeli territory by access roads only. Of those 15 settlements, six are in the Samaria Regional Council.

Dagan said his “aggressive campaign” would demand the government not agree to these aspects of the plan and also include outreach to evangelical Christians who support Trump.

“The prime minister can and must apply sovereignty in a manner in which Israeli interests are maintained,” Dagan said. “[Benjamin] Netanyahu is a great leader and he can and must apply sovereignty over Judea and Samaria on the State of Israel’s terms, with or without American agreement.”

Samaria Regional Council chairman Yossi Dagan (L) meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Blair House on January 27, 2020. (Samaria Regional Council)

He added that with the US presidential elections coming up in November, Trump would not look to pick a fight with Israel.

Dagan, a member of Netanyahu’s Likud party, claimed Trump’s evangelical supporters didn’t know the plan provides for a Palestinian state and were therefore backing it, even though he said it endangers their dream of “the return of the Jewish people to all parts of the promised land.”

The statement from Dagan came as the Yesha Council, an umbrella group of settler leaders, began pushing a map of what they claimed was the Trump administration’s plan to divide the West Bank into Israeli and Palestinian areas.

The map shows much of the West Bank bathed in red, ostensibly Palestinian areas, with a crudely drawn network of access roads and settlement enclaves along with panhandles of settlement blocs.

Yesha officials were showing the map to right-wing lawmakers, warning the proposed Palestinian state it outlines would be a danger to Israel.

In an interview with the Kan public broadcaster, Yesha leader David Elhayani said the map would “strangle” the settlement movement.

“It’s preferable to forgo applying sovereignty and to leave the existing situation as is,” he said.

Earlier this month, Yesha adopted a series of principles in what was effectively a protest against the Trump plan, including opposing a Palestinian state and any limitations on new settlement construction.

(From L-R) Gush Etzion Regional Council chairman Shlomo Ne’eman, Jordan Valley Regional Council chairman David Elhayani, Binyamin Regional Council chairman Yisrael Gantz and Efrat Local Council chairman Oded Revivi watch the unveiling of the Trump peace plan from a Washington hotel room on January 28, 2020. (Yesha Council)

The US plan allows Israel to continue building within the borders of existing settlements, while barring construction in the areas that are earmarked for a possible Palestinian state.

Hours after the Yesha Council published the list of six principles that it approved, a group of eight settler leaders published their own statement calling for supporting the Trump plan.

The statement organized by Efrat Mayor Oded Revivi calls the Trump deal a “defining test” for settler leadership akin to the one placed before the pre-state Zionist Congress when it was forced to decide whether or not to accept the UN Partition Plan in Mandatory Palestine.

“The leaders of the Settlement Movement in Judea and Samaria must be appreciative of the recognition and legitimacy being offered by the most powerful country on earth. We must be grateful and rejoice in The Deal of the Century,” the statement said.

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