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Israel's occupation is 'permanent as of now', says MP in Netanyahu's coalition

In an apparent reference to West Bank annexation, far-right lawmaker supports 'applying sovereignty' on all land that 'belongs to Israel'
Zvika Fogel speaking to the UK's Channel 4 News in an interview that was aired in December 2022 (Screenshot/Channel 4 News)
Zvika Fogel speaking to the UK's Channel 4 News in an interview aired in December 2022 (Screenshot/Channel 4 News)

An Israeli lawmaker said on Sunday that the occupation of Palestinian territories was permanent at least "as of right now" in response to the United Nations vote on Israel's occupation on Friday. 

Zvika Fogel, a far-right MP in the governing coalition, added that he supports "applying sovereignty on all land that legally belongs to Israel," in an apparent reference to Israeli plans to annex the occupied West Bank

On Friday, the UN voted in favour of asking the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to provide an advisory opinion on Israel's 55-year-long occupation of Palestinian territories. 

The judgements of the Hague-based ICJ normally take between a year to two years to conclude. They are binding but the court has no power to enforce them.

Israeli politicians in both the governing coalition and the opposition have slammed the UN for passing the resolution. 

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who this week took office as the head of a government that has set settlement expansion as a priority, called the decision "despicable" on Saturday.  

"The Jewish people are not occupiers in their own land nor occupiers in our eternal capital Jerusalem and no UN resolution can distort that historical truth," Netanyahu said in a video message.

Former minister and opposition MP Avigdor Lieberman shared a similar sentiment, labelling the decision as "contemptible". 

"A contemptible decision that must be widely condemned was passed tonight at the UN. This is further proof that, in the moment of truth, the State of Israel will not be able to trust the international institutions. This decision is the epitome of hypocrisy and injustice," Lieberman tweeted

A day before the UN vote, Netanyahu announced what he called the basic guidelines of his new government.

He said that the "Jewish people have an exclusive and unquestionable right to all areas of the land of Israel," including the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem. 

He vowed that the new government will "promote and develop settlement" in the West Bank, the Galilee, and the Negev.

Nearly 700,000 settlers are living in more than 250 settlements and outposts across the West Bank and east Jerusalem in violation of international law. 

Annexation push 

When asked in ​​an interview on Sunday with 103FM radio whether the occupation in the West Bank is permanent, Fogel said he couldn't "argue with the facts".

He added that: "As of right now, the occupation is permanent. And as of right now I would like to continue to apply Israeli sovereignty over all the areas that I can."

"Application of sovereignty" is a euphemism often used by Israeli politicians to refer to annexation.

"It is our right to continue to apply sovereignty on all land that legally belongs to Israel, and to settle this land in order to have the safest borders and to stop giving in to all kinds of nations that never existed and suddenly popped up," Fogel said. 

'It is our right to continue to apply sovereignty on all land that legally belongs to Israel, and to settle this land in order to have the safest borders'

- Zvika Fogel, Israeli MP 

Fogel is a member of the far-right ultra-nationalist Jewish Power party led by Itamar Ben Gvir, an openly racist Jewish supremacist and supporter of the extreme anti-Palestinian ideology of later Rabbi Meir Kahane.

In December Fogel told the UK's Channel 4 News that he wants to end any form of proportionality when dealing with Palestinians who he claimed Israel has been "too merciful" towards.

"Anyone who wants to harm me, I will harm him back. And as far as I'm concerned, the concept of proportionality must cease to exist," said Fogel. 

"So, I will tell you something that is very unpleasant to say. If it is one Israeli mother crying, or a thousand Palestinian mothers crying, then a thousand Palestinian mothers will cry."

When asked by the presenter if this policy was racist, Fogel said: "We are too merciful. It's time for us to stop being so. It has nothing to do with racism."

Fogel previously headed the regional council in the Galilee village of Tuba-Zangariyye, a role he exited in 2011 after a wave of violence and vandalism.

He also served as a brigadier general in the Israeli army reserves and headed its southern command before spending nearly a decade running the southern command's fire control unit.

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