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Israeli minister: We must 'give our lives' to annex West Bank

Naftali Bennett said Israelis must realise their dream of making entire West Bank part of state of Israel
Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett (AFP)

Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett called on supporters on Thursday to give up their lives to ensure the annexation of the West Bank.

Speaking at a conference honouring a late right-wing Israeli legislator, Bennett voiced opposition to the eviction of Amona, an Israeli settlement outpost in the West Bank built on privately owned Palestinian land in 1995 and considered illegal under international and Israeli law.

"We have to mark the dream, and the dream is that Judea and Samaria will be part of the sovereign state of Israel,” Bennett said, using an Israeli name for the West Bank.

The education minister, who leads the religious Zionist Habayit Hayehudi party, called for an active policy to annex the West Bank, saying that the “path of concessions” has failed.

“We can't keep marking the land of Israel as a tactical target and a Palestinian state as the strategic target," he was quoted as saying by Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

The West Bank, occupied by Israel in 1967, is supposed to be, along with the Gaza Strip, home to the Palestinian state. World powers, including the United States, see the two-state solution as the solution to end the 68-year-old conflict.

But Israel continues to build and expand Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

Tzipi Livni, former prime minister and co-chair of the Zionist Union opposition party, criticised Bennett’s comments, voicing fears that Palestinians would outnumber Israelis in a single state that would include the West Bank.

"Bennett's dream and the minority that he represents are the nightmare of all the people of Israel: A state with an Arab majority, with a continuous violent conflict," she told Haaretz.  

The US State Department and White House slammed Israel for new settlement plans on Wednesday, accusing their Middle Eastern ally of cementing the reality of “perpetual occupation”.

The plan undermines hopes for peace and "is fundamentally inconsistent with Israel's future as a Jewish and democratic state", US State Department spokesman Mark Toner said.

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