Ahead of elections, Netanyahu once again pledges to annex Israeli settlements in West Bank
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday he intends to annex all Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, doubling down on an election promise he made five months ago, though he did not provide a timeframe.
"With God's help we will extend Jewish sovereignty to all the settlements as part of the [biblical] land of Israel, as part of the state of Israel," Netanyahu said in a speech in the West Bank settlement of Elkana, where he was attending a ceremony opening the school year.
Settlements are one of the most contested issues in the Israeli-Palestine conflict and Netanyahu's most recent comments have already received pushback. A spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Netanyahu's announcement "will not lead to any peace, security, or stability." Saeb Erekat, a longtime peace negotiator who now serves as secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, said there's "an international responsibility to impose sanctions after decades of systematic crimes."
Hebrew University lecturer Yonatan Freeman told Bloomberg that Netanyahu is likely trying to cement support from the religious Zionist voting bloc, which might be vulnerable ahead of the country's September elections.