- Title: Israel's Netanyahu seeks settlers' votes with annexation pledge
- Date: 25th February 2020
- Summary: KARNEI SHOMRON SETTLEMENT, WEST BAN K (RECENT - FEBRUARY 18, 2020) (REUTERS) WOMAN POURING BEER TO GLASS AT A BAR WHERE RIGHT-WING LEADER AYELET SHAKED IS MEETING SUPPORTERS DURING ELECTION CAMPAIGN MAN TAKING BEER FROM COUNTER VARIOUS OF 43-YEAR-OLD YONI NOVIK FROM KARNEI SHOMRON SETTLEMENT LISTENING TO AYELET SHAKED (SOUNDBITE) (English) 43-YEAR-OLD YONI NOVIK FROM KARNEI SHOMRON SETTLEMENT SAYING: "I have great doubts that Netanyahu will do that, will go for sovereignty. I think that he talks about it a lot but I think there is always something, something comes up at the last minute. I personally thought that it would happen a couple of weeks ago after Trump came up with his plan and that quickly disappeared. So it's another disappointment." SHAKED TAKING SELFIES WITH GIRLS MAALE ADUMIM SETTLEMENT, WEST BANK (RECENT - FEBRUARY 19, 2020) (REUTERS) ISRAELI FLAG FLYING, CLOUDS COVERING THE SUN IN BACKGROUND VARIOUS OF MAALE ADUMIM JEWISH SETTLEMENT VARIOUS OF PEOPLE WAITING AT BUS STOP MAALE ADUMIM'S DEPUTY MAYOR, GUY YIFRACH, SPEAKING TO REPORTER YIFRACH'S EYES (SOUNDBITE) (Hebrew) MAALE ADUMIM'S DEPUTY MAYOR, GUY YIFRACH, SAYING: "I have no doubt that there is a consensus in Israeli politics, in Israel's political system, regarding applying sovereignty over Jewish settlement in Judea, Samaria (biblical term for West Bank) and the Jordan Valley, surely regarding Maale Adumim which was considered as an inseparable part of the state of Israel in all past agreements. The question is who will advance it, and who will drag his heels. I think that if Netanyahu forms the government, he, together with his coalition partners, will immediately advance it once he gets U.S. permission." AL-AZARIYA PALESTINIAN VILLAGE AS SEEN FROM MAALE ADUMIM KIRYAT ARBA, WEST BANK (FEBRUARY 23, 2020) (REUTERS) SETTLER LEADER ELYAKIM HAETZNI SPEAKING TO REPORTER (SOUNDBITE) (English) SETTLER LEADER ELYAKIM HAETZNI, SAYING: "I think that this is a big deception manoeuvre on the side of our Prime Minister Netanyahu, I'm sorry to say." HAETZNI'S HANDS HAETZNI'S EYES (SOUNDBITE) (English) SETTLER LEADER ELYAKIM HAETZNI, SAYING: "(Q: Will you vote for Netanyahu?) Of course not. It's not the first time that I ... I will vote to the party which is to the right of the Likud, Yamina." HAR HEMED SETTLEMENT, WEST BANK (FEBRUARY 25, 2020) (REUTERS) TIME-LAPSE VIDEO OF CLOUDS HOVERING OVER SETTLEMENT OVER KEDUMIM SETTLEMENT AREA, WEST BANK (FEBRUARY 25, 2020) (REUTERS) AERIAL VIDEO SHOWING SETTLEMENTS
- Embargoed: 10th March 2020 15:43
- Keywords: Israel Palestinians U.S. President Donald Trump's Middle East peace plan West Bank settlements election settlers
- Location: ABOVE KEDUMIM SETTLEMENT AREA, HAR HEMED SETTLEMENT, OUTSIDE ARIEL SETTLEMENT, KARNEI SHOMRON SETTLEMENT, MAALE ADUMIM SETTLEMENT AND KIRYAT ARBA SETTLEMENT, WEST BANK/ JERUSALEM
- City: ABOVE KEDUMIM SETTLEMENT AREA, HAR HEMED SETTLEMENT, OUTSIDE ARIEL SETTLEMENT, KARNEI SHOMRON SETTLEMENT, MAALE ADUMIM SETTLEMENT AND KIRYAT ARBA SETTLEMENT, WEST BANK/ JERUSALEM
- Country: Palestinian Territories
- Topics: Conflicts/War/Peace
- Reuters ID: LVA004C2417IF
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: An election in Israel next week could bring many settlers in the occupied West Bank closer to a long-held goal - annexation of the settlements where they live.
But for hardline settlers, that prize could come with an unacceptable price - the creation of a Palestinian state.
Their dream of consolidating Israel's hold on the West Bank and their nightmare of having to give some of it up are both included - however improbably - in the pages of U.S. President Donald Trump's Middle East plan.
Fighting for his political survival in Israel's third election in less than a year, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pledged, if he wins Monday's vote (March 3), to apply Israeli sovereignty to the settlements, built on land captured in a war in 1967.
His frequent campaign stops in settlements and promises of de-facto annexation - which Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said would create a fragmented and unviable "Swiss cheese" of a Palestinian state - could draw votes from the far-right.
But Netanyahu's annexation promises do not go far enough for some settlers. They believe God promised the land to their forefathers and want all the West Bank, for which they use the Biblical name Judea and Samaria, not just the settlements.
"Rest assured that we will not stop claiming every single inch of this land when Netanyahu, please God, is elected," said Daniella Weiss, a settler leader from Kedumim who helped establish the nearby settlement outpost of Har Hemed.
The provisions of Trump's plan will for the first time be a factor for the Israeli electorate as the contents were announced only in January, so played no role in Israel's two inconclusive elections last year.
The West Bank's 450,000 settlers, living in more than 250 settlements and outposts among towns where 3 million Palestinians reside, make up only about five percent of Israel's population. But the settler movement is influential, with a high voter turnout, and is powerful within Netanyahu's Likud party.
Netanyahu, 70, goes on trial on March 17 on corruption charges he denies. But opinion polls show his Likud party inching past the centrist Blue and White party of former armed forces chief Benny Gantz, 60, though neither is likely to win a solid parliamentary majority.
Seeking to shore up settler support, Netanyahu has held almost daily events in settlements. Visiting Ariel on Monday (February 24) with Trump-appointed U.S. Ambassador David Friedman, he repeated his annexation pledge.
Still, some settlers are sceptical he will make good on his annexation promise.
"He talks about it a lot but something always comes up at the last minute," said Yoni Novick, from Karnei Shomron settlement.
Novick, 43, had come to the settlement's pub to listen to a leader of Yemina, a far-right party competing with Likud for the settler vote. Asked for whom he would vote, he said: "I really don't know."
Further south, in Maale Adumim, a settlement of more than 40,000 people about 15 minutes drive from Jerusalem, the red-roofed homes, shopping mall, flowerbeds and traffic make it look like many other Israeli cities. But most of the international community regards it and other settlements as a violation of international law.
Israel rejects that view, and is largely backed by the Trump administration.
Maale Adumim's deputy mayor, Guy Yifrach, said he believed there was broad consensus among Israelis that sovereignty should be applied to settlements such as his.
"The question is who will advance it, and who will drag his heels. If Netanyahu forms the government he will immediately advance it once he gets U.S. permission," he said.
Yifrach said he did not believe Gantz would press ahead with annexation if he became prime minister.
But in Kiryat Arba, where more than 7,000 settlers live on the outskirts of Hebron, a city that is home to 200,000 Palestinians, settler leader Elyakim Haetzni said: "I think that this is a big deception manoeuvre on the side of our Prime Minister Netanyahu, I'm sorry to say."
(Production: Eli Berlzon, Dedi Hayun, Ilan Rosenberg, Rami Amichai, Lianne Back)
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